BOSTON — Game 5 of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs was a pulse-pounding affair.
A total of seven goals, seven power plays, 66 shots on goal and 129 shot attempts highlighted thrilling end-to-end action that had fans at TD Garden on the edge of their seats.
The Leafs, facing elimination, survived a tenacious third-period effort by the Bruins to leave Saturday night’s matchup with a 4-3 win that sends the series back to Toronto for Game 6 on Monday night.
Here are a few takeaways from Game 5.
Freddie Andersen Is Back
The Leafs goalie entered this series with a 10-1-0 record and a .935 save percentage in his career against the Bruins, but he lasted less than four periods over the first two games after allowing nine goals. Andersen also didn’t play up to par in Game 4 when the B’s took a 3-1 series lead with a 3-1 win in Toronto.
The veteran goalie needed to step up Saturday for the Leafs’ season not to end, and he gave a stellar performance with 42 saves on 45 shots.
“Freddy was great. He was great,” Leafs forward Nazem Kadri said. “We needed him to be huge for us (Saturday night), and he made some incredible saves and ultimately gave us a chance.”
Bruins’ Fourth Line Provides Offense
On a night where the Bruins’ top line — which has dominated offensively for large stretches of this series — struggled to put the puck in the net, it was Boston’s fourth line that did the most damage scoring-wise.
Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari scored the Bruins’ second and third goals, respectively, to give the team a chance for a third-period equalizer.
“I think we just tried to keep it simple,” Kuraly said of his line’s success. “We knew our team just needed some energy and the goals were just a byproduct of us trying to play the right way, and sometimes they don’t go in but (Saturday night) they did. Obviously a couple great plays from some guys, but we’re just trying to play the right way and create some energy and (Saturday night) a couple went in.”
Leafs Cannot Concede So Much Puck Possession And Win The Series
The Bruins dominated puck possession throughout Game 5 with 90 shot attempts — their highest total in a single game this season. They also created a season-high 52 scoring chances and had a season-best plus-33 margin in scoring chances.
Sure, Boston’s six power plays had a lot to do with these lopsided shot numbers, but the B’s also led 64-37 in shot attempts and 30-19 in shots on goal during 5-on-5 play.
Andersen, as described in the first section, bailed out the Leafs, as did a few Bruins shots that hit the posts. But the Leafs cannot rely on Andersen to make 40-plus saves and have 90 shots come his way if they want a realistic chance of winning the next two games and the series.
The Bruins had a 39-8 advantage in shot attempts in the third period alone. The Leafs were lucky to give up only two goals over the final 20 minutes with a margin as wide as that.
They need to be much more disciplined in the defensive zone and not take so many penalties because giving a Bruins team that ranked sixth in goals scored and fourth in power-play percentage during the regular season 90 shot attempts usually won’t end well for the Leafs.