The Maple Leafs’ 2018-19 season came to an unceremonious end with a 5-1 defeat to the Bruins on Tuesday night. For the second time in as many years, and for the third time in six seasons, Toronto was eliminated in Boston in a Game Seven.
- John Tavares – who had been mired in a five-game goal drought – capitalized on a turnover by Boston’s John Moore for his second marker of the playoffs. It turned out to be the only occasion in the series in which Tavares beat Tuukka Rask, following his Game One empty-netter.
- Toronto’s fourth line; Tyler Ennis, Trevor Moore and Frederik Gauthier brought the same energetic spark that the trio has shown all series. It was Ennis who forced the turnover that led to Tavares’s goal.
- The Leafs, down 2-1 in the second period, had prolonged stretches of pressure in the Bruins zone as they pushed for the equalizer. They didn’t capitalize even though they deserved a better fate.
- Mitch Marner, who had been held to just one shot on goal in the previous three games – none in the past two outings – generated five shots on goal, two of which came on a dangerous rush in the opening frame.
- Having surrendered a pair of power play goals in Game Six and with its penalty-kill struggling, Toronto did well to not take any penalties.
- Frederik Andersen – the backbone on whom the team has relied ever since his acquisition – had a substandard outing. He gave up the opening goal of the game after Travis Dermott’s turnover eventually found its way to Joakim Nordstrom, who squeaked the puck between the goalie’s arm and body into the net.
- The Bruins capitalized on a turnover by Jake Gardiner behind the net to make the score 2-0. Gardiner, perhaps expecting some support from Auston Matthews, blindly placed the puck onto the stick of Marcus Johansson who beat Andersen on a wraparound.
- The back-breaking goal occurred in the third period when Sean Kuraly waltzed around Ron Hainsey before beating the goaltender from just outside the icing circle. Andersen has lost all four Game Sevens that he has played in his career (two with Anaheim, two with Toronto).
- Patrick Marleau looked all of his 39 years. With the Leafs pressing on the power play to get the tying goal, any momentum that Toronto had in the sequence was snuffed when Marleau, playing on the second unit, was outworked for the puck and the Bruins cleared the zone.
- Charlie Coyle and Patrice Bergeron sealed the game with empty net goals.
- Zdeno Chara sucker-punched John Tavares during a scrum at the end of the second period. No penalty was called.
- Babcock’s management of his personnel, not shortening the bench in a must-win game, will undoubtedly come under scrutiny. Auston Matthews was held to just 18:48 of ice time, well under the marks allotted to John Tavares (21:19) and Mitch Marner (20:53). When Frederik Gauthier’s skates hit the ice with a third period, one-goal deficit in an elimination game, something is terribly wrong.
In 2019, Rob co-wrote with Evan Gubernick “Hockey Addict’s Guide: Toronto”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.