Leafs costly turnovers lead to Game 3 loss
(Jake Gardiner’s goal not enough to overcome deficit)
May 6: Leafs 2 vs. Bruins 5
Forward lines: Lupul-Bozak-Frattin, van Riemsdyk-Grabovski-Kulemin, Hamilton-Kadri-Kessel, Komarov-McClement-Orr
Defence pairings: Phaneuf-Gunnarsson, Gardiner-O’Byrne, Franson-Fraser
Goaltenders: Reimer (Loss, 59:30 minutes played, 33 saves, 4 GA), Scrivens (0:00), (empty net, 1 GA)
The Boston Bruins provide enough of a formidable challenge for the Leafs in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Final without Toronto having to worry about beating itself.
But such was the result for the home side in front of 19,745 raucous fans at Air Canada Centre. The Leafs gift wrapped a pair of goals on route to a 5-2 defeat to trail the series two games to one.
Things started to unravel in the second period with Toronto already trailing 1-0. Defenceman Ryan O’Byrne was stripped of the puck by the ageless future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, who promptly fed a pass to a waiting Rich Peverley who made no mistake in beating goalie James Reimer to extend the Boston lead.
The Leafs were able to answer on a 4-on-3 power-play as Jake Gardiner registered his first career NHL playoff goal, unloading a point shot after Chris Kelly’s clearing attempt failed.
But the momentum quickly shifted back to the Bruins, who took no longer than fifty seconds to respond. Toronto’s defence was guilty of giving up odd-man rushes for much of the night, and a costly 2-on-1 resulted in Boston’s third goal, courtesy of Nathan Horton assisted by Milan Lucic.
The dagger through the heart was driven during a Leafs power-play when Phil Kessel’s clumsy outlet pass to Dion Phaneuf was promptly picked off by Daniel Paille who converted a shorthanded breakaway to put the game seemingly out of reach.
Although Kessel attempted to spark a rally by scoring 47 seconds into the third period – bringing the Leafs to within 4-2 – Toronto couldn’t reduce the gap. A Cody Franson shot off the right goal post beside Tuukka Rask was as close as they would come.
Adam McQuaid had the first Boston goal while David Krejci rounded out the scoring into an empty net.
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle was frank in his assessment. “We made some mistakes that ended up in our net. When you do that, it usually ends up that you’re on the wrong side of the score,” he said.
“I thought our work ethic was really strong. We did a lot of good things, but our execution level and the mistakes that we made aren’t going to allow us to win a hockey game playing like that.”
Gardiner took little solace in having scored the first playoff goal of his NHL career. “We’re definitely not happy about it,” he said. “We made a few mistakes and they capitalized.”
Before Monday’s game, Carlyle had preached to his squad about minimizing turnovers. The players will have to listen to the sermon more closely in Game 4 to avoid falling into a huge 3-1 hole in the series.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca
Follow TMLfans.ca on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tmlfansrob