Able to finally come up for air after trudging through 21 games in the final 39 days of the regular season, the Boston Bruins came out and dictated play in their postseason opener Thursday night at TD Garden.
David Backes put the Bruins ahead for good with Boston's second power-play marker at 15:43 before their top line extended that advantage.
And now, a defeat is nearly certain to be followed by a suspension of Nazem Kadri, who carelessly hit Tommy Wingels and was tossed for his indiscretion.
Last year, the Leafs weren't expected to make the playoffs so it was a bonus, but fans are expecting a lot more from them this year, and are hoping for at least a second round appearance. "But it is an opportunity to establish the way you want to play, dictate the pace and your style of play". At the end of the day, that's the lineup we chose. "Whatever happens we'll move onto Game 2".
Toronto's Nazem Kadri was sent off with a game misconduct and match penalty with 11:42 remaining in the third after slamming the head of Boston's Tommy Wingels into the boards while he was already down on the ice. Oh yeah, bring it on, they said. We talked about having young guys in there, it's how they handle it. The game calmed down at the end of the first, the start of the second.
Pastrnak scored to make it 3-1 from Marchand and Bergeron late in the second period, with Babcock caught on an icing and the Tomas Plekanec line was terribly overmatched, and Bergeron winning an offensive zone faceoff rather easily.
That was followed by two consecutive chances created by Marchand and Patrice Bergeron while shorthanded.
In truth, Bergeron and Marchand made Matthews and Nylander look like kids who were not ready for prime-time playoffs.
The Leafs scored the third-most goals in the league this season and ranked second in power-play percentage. However, it is tough to judge anything based on the season series after all the irregularities that occurred in the four games. The Bruins won 5-1, and deserved it.
Sensing the kill shot within shot, and with Toronto's fourth line swimming in the defensive zone, Cassidy's fearsome first line went back to work.
Zach Hyman had the Maple Leafs' only goal and Frederik Andersen had 35 saves. But lashing out is no way to get your team back on track on the ice. Still, as Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly put it before Game 1 began, "If we didn't believe, we wouldn't put the pressure on ourselves". But then that special-teams bogeyman came to call.
Two-goal leads can be among the most unsafe in the game, but when you put your team short-handed so much, it is all for naught.
The Leafs were beaten 5-1 in Game 1 and they were significantly outplayed, outworked, outthought, and out-disciplined by the Bruins and that may be being kind. Then Leafs forward Patrick Marleau took a hooking penalty at 13:59 during one of the frequent nasty periods of the game.
The game continued to shift towards Toronto in the second, with strong PK shifts from Chara and Noel Acciari tightening up the crease and stymying a pair of Leafs power-play bids in the period.
Any chance for momentum to start the third period was lost when Leaf forwards Mitch Marner and Kadri took penalties in the first five minutes.