It was an occasion worthy of a block party outside the arena, a giant screen on which to watch the game and, for the lucky attendees, white and blue scarves–not playoff rally towels, for some reason, despite it being a balmy 63 degrees outside. The first Toronto Maple Leafs home playoff game in almost a decade was a party and the Boston Bruins crashed it with a 5-2 win, taking a 2-1 series lead.
In the process, they also broke the pattern of the team scoring first going on to lose the game, even though there were still some issues that caused fans a degree of worry. For example, the Bruins made Tuukka Rask‘s life a lot harder than it had to be. Though Rask played his tail off against the team that drafted and then passed on him, enduring the ‘tuu-kka’ chants that came before the first goal was tallied, he had to make 46 saves. This was a regulation game, just for the record.
At this point, it’s not even really worth it to discuss Tyler Seguin–his try-as-I-might-I-will-not-score thing is just too frustrating! He had the most beautiful chance at one point and it just did not happen. His linemates, though, weren’t present on the scoresheet either. They did contribute in other ways, however. Brad Marchand managed to get Phil Kessel off the ice for two minutes without going over the edge and earning more than two penalty minutes. Patrice Bergeron played defense better than his team’s actual defensemen at one point, showing some of that Selke-winning flair. Still, it would be nice if these guys started putting up goals and helpers.
The Bruins also need to be really careful with penalties. Even if they don’t seem warranted, they’re still going to come, and Toronto is going to try its best to score on them. Both of their goals tonight were on the power play. Again, whether or not all of the penalties on Boston are quality calls, they are not going to stop happening just because they won and took the series lead.
This was a game of firsts, and not just the obvious one. Adam McQuaid got his first-ever postseason goal. Rich Peverley and Jaromir Jagr both picked up their first points of just this playoff season. In fact, Jagr was the sole assist on Peverley’s goal, making it 2-0 Boston. Daniel Paille‘s excellent shorthanded goal–remember when he couldn’t ever finish on the breakaway?–was also his first of this postseason.
Nathan Horton‘s goal was also great for two reasons: it came quickly after Jake Gardiner got the Leafs on the board and it came to a rest atop the camera mounted inside the net. His linemates were also excellent tonight: Milan Lucic got three assists while David Krejci had two helpers and an empty-netter. Lucic, by the way, was given the Ranger jacket for the team MVP. It’s great to see the top line doing so well.
I hesitate to even acknowledge the presence of the jerk who brought a “Toronto Stronger” sign, resplendent with an awareness ribbon, to the game. Boston Strong isn’t some sort of term that has meaning only on a Bruins level. It has meaning on the level of an entire city’s resilience in the face of terrorism. That sign is just one rather tasteless fan having his say and trying to make the headlines, which he has, but seriously, that’s way beyond the pale in terms of chirping during the postseason. Seeing fans of other teams, including Toronto, disavow that guy is greatly refreshing.
There’s still another game yet to go in this barn before the Bruins can play game five at home. It will be important for them to keep up the good work–and minimize the bad work–from tonight so as not to make this series a seesaw. Tune in at 7 p.m. on May 8 to see what happens.