May 11, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: Bruins fail to finish off Leafs

By Jesse Connolly

Patrice Bergeron hangs his head after the Bruins' attempted comeback falls short in Game 5. (Getty Images)

Final: Toronto 2, Boston 1

Recap: Following a lackluster, scoreless first period in which the Bruins were short on emotion and scoring chances, the B's picked up the pace in the second period. Unfortunately. it was the Leafs that got on the board first. Oh, and second as well.

Andy Ference had a bad turnover on the man advantage which led to a shorthanded breakaway tally by center Tyler Bozak. The Leafs made it a two-goal game early in the third when a Johnny Boychuk outlet pass was off the mark, missing its intended target of Nathan Horton. Clarke MacArthur grabbed the puck and charged in past Boychuk, beating Tuukka Rask to make it 2-0. 

With 8:48 remaining in regulation, a Zdeno Chara shot from the point beat James Reimer up high to cut the lead in half, but it was too little, too late.

Series: Bruins lead 3-2

Playoff Records: Boston 3-2; Toronto 2-3

Key Play of the Game: The Bruins' reaction to Chara's goal just sums up this whole game. The B's finally found that next gear and put the pedal to the metal, but where was that in the first 51-plus minutes of the game? Where was that drive to get the win and eliminate the Leafs? It was missing in action.

Connolly's Commendations: Hats off to Rask for keeping Boston in the game in the first period. The Bruins were outshot 19-8 and extremely lucky to head to the middle frame tied 0-0.

Jaromir Jagr was a puck-possessing horse and just absolutley manhandled virtually everyone that tried to defend him. No. 68 had seven shots on goal and came awfully close to tying the game up with under 30 seconds left in regulation.

Connolly's Critiques: Boston's second line is now at five games and counting without an even-strength goal. Brad Marchand was nearly as quiet as an empty library. Tyler Seguin hit a post in the closing seconds and put eight pucks on goal, but he also missed a wide open net midway through the game, lost the puck in his own feet and turned it over on the power play and missed his one true chance to turn on the jets and split defenders when he was the recipient of a giveaway in the neutral zone earlier on in the contest.

Ference had the turnover that led to Bozak's breakaway goal and, "offensively," had just one of his eight shot attempts reach Reimer, as six were blocked and another went wide. The B's clearly missed Wade Redden's presence on the blue line, especially on the power play.

Notes: Speaking of Redden (undisclosed injury), his replacement, Matt Bartkowski, played a little more than six minutes in the loss. Bartkowski probably spent more time putting together his music playlist for the drive up from Providence than he did on the ice. Rask is now 1-6 when the Bruins have a chance to eliminate their playoff opponent (2010: 1-1 vs. Buffalo, 0-4 vs. Philadelphia; 2013: 0-1 vs. Toronto).

Final Thoughts: The Bruins knack for blowing chunks in these situations boggles my mind. They had a perfect opportunity to give the Leafs the boot, with home-ice advantage and all the momentum after winning the last two games up in Toronto. Instead, they came out flat and -- shy of a pretty deceiving edge in shots on goal -- continued to play that way until Chara's goal woke them up. The fact that an NHL team needs a wake-up call in that situation is, quite simply, a little sad and awfully tiresome. 

Next: The Bruins will now look to keep the Leafs from forcing a seventh game. Game 6 is in Toronto on Sunday night at 7:30.

 Twitter: @JesseNEHJ