For the second time this decade, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will play a win-or-go-home Game 7 in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Leafs staved off elimination again Monday night with a 3-1 win in Game 6 at the Air Canada Centre. The Bruins scored first, but three unanswered goals by the Leafs — from William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Tomas Plekanec (empty net) — propelled Toronto to victory. It was the first game of the series during which the team that scored first lost.
Here’s how Game 6 unfolded.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy made a few changes to his lines to start Game 6. Danton Heinen was a healthy scratch, and Tommy Wingels came into the lineup as a result. Wingels played on the top line at Rick Nash’s usual spot. Nash went down to the third line alongside David Backes and Riley Nash. Rick Nash entered Monday with one goal and zero assists in this series.
BRUINS CONTROL FIRST PERIOD
The B’s were in command for most of the first period despite not having a single power play and the Leafs getting one. Boston had a 26-18 edge (20-16 at 5-on-5) in shot attempts and a 17-10 advantage (17-8 at 5-on-5) in shots on goal during the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins made a strong push at the end of the period and nearly scored a few times. They also held the Leafs without a shot attempt over the final 4:05 of the frame.
Patrice Bergeron was the Bruins’ best player in the first period with four shots on goal and an 8-for-8 mark on faceoffs.
Despite all of the shots Boston sent at Toronto’s net, these teams were scoreless after one period.
BRUINS SCORE FIRST
The first team to score won each of the five games entering Monday, and Jake DeBrusk got the B’s on the board at 1:02 of the second period when his wrister beat Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen. David Krejci won the faceoff back to DeBrusk, who unleashed an accurate shot.
LEAFS QUICKLY RESPOND
It took the Leafs just 35 seconds to tie the score. Nylander buried a rebound at the top of the crease. The Bruins couldn’t react to the rebound in time and Nylander walked in undetected. It was Nylander’s first goal of the series.
The Leafs scored a short while after this goal, too, to briefly go up 2-1 before the tally was taken away after the Bruins successfully challenged for goalie interference.
LEAFS GO AHEAD
Toronto went up 2-1 when Marner fired a puck past B’s goalie Tuukka Rask at 13:25 of the second period. Brad Marchand didn’t clear the puck when he had the chance.
The tally resulted the first lead change in the entire series, which is sort of hard to believe given all the goals scored through five games.
BRUINS UNABLE TO SCORE EQUALIZER
The Bruins began the third period on a nearly-full 2-minute power play but couldn’t score, and despite a few other decent chances in the period to tie the game, Boston wasn’t able to force overtime with a second goal.
A Bruins power play in the final six minutes of the third period yielded a few good scoring chances as well, but Andersen was up to the task and made a few clutch saves to preserve Toronto’s lead. Rask also made a save on a shorthanded breakaway for Toronto late in the final period.
Plekanec scored an empty-net goal for the Leafs to put them up 3-1 with 1:13 remaining.
The series-deciding Game 7 will be Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports