NHL’s Best Line Powers Bruins To Convincing 2-0 Series Lead Over Leafs

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BOSTON — Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t need many words to describe the exceptional performance of Boston’s top line in the B’s 7-3 Game 2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Terrific and terrific.”

The B’s first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak dominated offensively Saturday night at TD Garden, combining for 14 points.

“I don’t think I can say anymore,” Cassidy added. “They were on (Saturday night). Really hard to play against, and they play a 200-foot game. You can talk about (Bergeron) and (Marchand) on the penalty kill, while you’re at it.”

Pastrnak led the way with six points, chipping in a hat trick and three assists. It was one of the best ever playoff performances by a Bruins player, and he tied a B’s franchise record for points in a postseason game. The 21-year-old winger now has nine points (four goals and five assists) through two games of this first-round series, which puts him No. 1 in the league in playoff scoring entering Sunday.

Bergeron and Marchand each tallied four assists in Game 2, and their work together on the penalty kill has limited the league’s second-best power play to one goal in seven opportunities this series.

All together, this line has scored five goals, dished out 15 assists and been on the ice for 10 of Boston’s 12 goals through two games.

“They’re the best line in hockey for a reason,” Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. “They do things 200 feet, the d-zone and transitioning into offense. They hound the puck like no one I’ve seen. They’re great forecheckers and everyone brings something to the table. It’s definitely tough to defend them, and then they’re your best defenders as well.”

The Bruins’ top line taking over games at both ends of the ice has been a theme all season.

This trio finished first, second, and third on the team in scoring. Marchand led with 85 points, and all three tallied 30-plus goals, paced by Pastrnak with 35. They also dominated puck possession throughout the season, as evidenced by their 58.86 Corsi For percentage during 5-on-5 play, which ranked second among all lines with 500-plus minutes of ice time.

Creating scoring chances and potting goals isn’t the only part of the game that Boston’s top line is excelling at in this series, though. It’s also shutting down the Leafs’ top line on the defensive end of the ice. Toronto’s best player, Auston Matthews, is scoreless through two games. He’s been a complete non-factor offensively despite scoring 74 goals in his first two seasons.

The Bruins are much more than a one-line team — they had 11 players with double-digit goals during the regular season. But in the playoffs, your best players must lead the way and consistently produce at both ends of the ice, and the B’s couldn’t have asked for more from their top line through two games.

The tremendous two-way play of Bergeron, Pastrnak and Marchand is the primary reason the Bruins are headed to Toronto with a 2-0 series lead.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

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