BOSTON — A problem that plagued the Boston Bruins all season felt like a distant memory Saturday evening.
In Game 2 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, the Bruins easily dispatched the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3, and it was due in large part to a scoring deluge Boston poured on the opposition in the opening frame.
The Bruins tallied four goals, two on the power play, as they went into the first intermission ahead 4-0. And in doing so, they distanced themselves from the seemingly incessant problem of starting slow and, in turn, playing from behind for much of the duration.
On 45 occasions during the regular season, Boston allowed the first goal. Many times, that didn’t have a huge impact on the final result, but it was pervasive enough that it resulted in the Bruins going 21-18-6 in those contests. That struggle very well could have been exacerbated by a Leafs team that often excelled early in contests, as they entered the postseason tied for the league lead with a plus-25 first-period goal differential.
But the Bruins set the tone early in Game 2, and it showed throughout the full 60 minutes. They were thoroughly dominant for a vast majority of the game, and it was partly the product of the fact that by the time the first 15 minutes of the game had elapsed, the result really was not in doubt.
“In those first two games, it was huge we got the first goal, and obviously we need to be ready for the third game and can’t expect that we’re always going to get the first goal,” David Pastrnak said following the game. “Obviously we’re going to do our best, but (we just have to) play patiently the whole game. And like you said, we came back many times, so we just need to play through the 60 minutes and stay in our system for the whole game.”
After the Bruins’ underwhelming 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers in the regular-season finale, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy harped on his team’s oft-slow starts, particularly late in the season. While acknowledging their resilience in mostly playing well at a deficit, he made it quite clear that coming out of the gate hot would be a point of emphasis in the days leading up to the playoffs.
Sounds like it was a point well-taken.
Here are more notes from Bruins-Leafs Game 2:
— So far this series when the Leafs entered the penalty box, there was as good a probability as not that the Bruins would cash in. And when Boston has gotten tagged for a penalty, it has been a near-certainty that it would killed.
Special teams have been a huge reason why the Bruins are heading to Toronto with a 2-0 lead. The Bruins executed on two of their four power play opportunities in Game 2, with both of their goals on the man advantage coming in the first period. Meanwhile, they killed three of the Leafs’ four advantages Saturday, bringing their total for the series on the PK to a solid 6-for-7.
— There were plenty of playoff firsts for Bruins rookies Saturday night. Ryan Donato dressed after Tommy Wingels was unable to go, marking his first NHL playoff game. In skating Saturday night, he became part of just the second father-son duo to play for Boston in the postseason. His father, Ted, made his first Boston postseason appearance in the 1991-92 season. Ken Hodge Sr. and Ken Hodge Jr. both played in the playoffs for the Bruins during their respective careers.
Jake DeBrusk also recorded his first playoff goal in the win. The 21-year-old winger lit the lamp on the power play at 9:46 in the first period.
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