May 6, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: Krejci line carries B's to Game 3 win

By Jesse Connolly

All James Reimer can do is facepalm, as David Krejci's line put yet another puck past him in Boston's Game 3 victory Monday night at the Air Canada Centre. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 5, Toronto 2

Recap: During a first period that featured 30 shots, only one puck found the back of the net. It came off the stick of defenseman Adam McQuaid 13:42 in, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

In the second, Boston made it 2-0 when Jaromir Jagr made a pass from behind the net out to Rich Peverley, who beat James Reimer to give the third line their first two points of the series. But the Leafs made it a one-goal game during a power play less than eight minutes later, with young blueliner Jake Gardiner scoring during a scramble in the B's zone.

But the Bruins responded quickly, with Nathan Horton capping off a great sequence of passes to make it 3-1. With 3:23 to go in the middle frame, Dan Paille scored his first of the playoffs on a shorthanded breakaway. 

In the third, Toronto scored in the opening minute of the period with Phil Kessel banging home a loose puck in front of the crease past Tuukka Rask to make it 4-2. Despite the Bruins being in survival mode for most of the period, that was as close as the Leafs would come. David Krejci closed out the scoring with an empty-netter.

Series: Bruins lead 2-1

Playoff Records: Boston 2-1; Toronto 1-2

Key Play of the Game: On Boston's third goal, Krejci made a nice, short pass to Horton to get out of the zone. Horton quickly dished the puck up to near the Leafs' blue line. Milan Lucic got position on a defender to grab the pass and then centered it for No. 18. He buried to quickly squash Toronto's momentum.

Connolly's Commendations: Well, how can we not start with the three forwards who absolutely dominated the Leafs once again? Horton (goal, assist), Lucic (three assists) and Krejci (goal, two assists) are proving to be unstoppable in this series. The "heavy" wingers and crafty center keep driving to the net and keep driving Toronto defenders crazy. They racked up eight points tonight, giving them a combined total of 17 (!) points through three games.

Aside from a couple breakdowns on the PP, the Bruins were better defensively tonight. Chief among those deserving kudos is the last line of defense. Rask finished the night with 46 saves, a career high in the postseason for the netminder.

Nice to see the third line finally break through after two extremely discouraging performances to start the series. Jagr was much better tonight, Peverley cashed in and combined with Kelly to win 22-of-24 faceoffs. 

Connolly's Critiques: Hard to be fussy after a big win, but the Bruins went into an absolute shell in the third. Had a few pucks bounced in different directions, or even one of the Leafs' multiple shots that hit the post gone an inch or two in the other direction, this could've been a different game. Getting outshot 18-6 is just a bad way to close things out.

Notes: McQuaid goal was his first-ever tally in the playoffs. Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk led the B's with seven hits each. Lucic, Horton, Krejci, McQuaid and Wade Redden led the team with a plus-3 rating.

Final Thoughts: No one quite knew what Bruins team to expect tonight, but luckily they looked a lot more like the team that won Game 1 than the defensively dismal squad that lost Game 2. Now, they have to keep their foot on the gas an play just as well in Game 4, which would give them a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Next: The Leafs will look to dodge that scenario and knot things up at two games apiece when they host Game 4 Wednesday night.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ