May 4, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: Lupul, Leafs even up series

By Jesse Connolly

Joffrey Lupul celebrates his second goal of the game with Tyler Bozak and Matt Frattin. (Getty Images)

Final: Toronto 4, Boston 2

Recap: Unlike in Game 1, the Bruins scored the first goal of the game. A shot by Milan Lucic went off Nathan Horton's skate and into the back of the net 1:56 into the second period. Unfortunately for Boston, much like Game 2, it was the team that didn't score first that dominated on the scoreboard from there on out.

The B's suddenly-terrible penalty kill gave up a goal just four minutes after Horton tallied, as Joffrey Lupul scored from in close after a shot from the point by Jake Gardiner. Lupul put the Leafs ahead six minutes later, burying a feed from Matt Frattin to make it 2-1.

In the third, Nazem Kadri sent Phil Kessel in alone on a breakaway, and the former Bruin beat Tuukka Rask to make it 3-1. Boston wasn't dead yet, however, as Johnny Boychuk scored for the second game in a row with Tyler Seguin screening in front. 

But, with the B's pressing to tie things up, James van Riemsdyk stuck the dagger in Boston's hopes with an insurance goal to make it 4-2. Deflated, the B's mounted little other than a fight between Shawn Thornton and Mark Fraser with half a second left in the contest.

Series: Bruins and Leafs tied 1-1

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

Key Play of the Game: With that oh-they're-so-gonna-tie-it-up-here feeling in the air, and the Leafs' 3-2 lead looking in serious danger, Jaromir Jagr had a really bad turnover that sent the Leafs headed the other way. Mikhail Grabovski made a nice dish to van Riemsdyk, who scored a gorgeous, spin-around goal on a hopeless Rask. Ballgame.

Connolly's Commendations: In unconventional fashion, we'll give props to Rask for making  a lot of big saves. The final score was no indication of how No. 40 played for Boston. Rask probably couldn't be faulted on any of the goals and if he hadn't been so strong, this game could've gotten out of hand. 

Super encouraging game for Seguin tonight. Not only did he have eight shots (topping the seven he had in Game 1), he also dished out four hits and went to the front of the net on multiple occasions. Dude got greasy, and that should bode well for the B's going forward.

Connolly's Critiques: Pretty rough night for everyone whose position starts with the letter 'D' for the Boston Bruins. Dennis Seidenberg was minus-3, Adam McQuaid got burned on the power-play goal and didn't do anything to keep Lupul at bay on the second goal. Even Zdeno Chara, who somehow finished plus-2, had a rough go of it with bad decisions on pinches and poorly-timed penalties.

Through two games, Jagr has been missing in action offensively (ditto for his center, Chris Kelly). But No. 68 had some bad turnovers in this one and looked noticeably slower than usual. Not a great sign going forward.

Notes: Kessel notched the first even-strength goal of his career against the Bruins. James Reimer is still the Maple Leafs goalie (not a whole lot of reasons to mention the guy leading up to this). Dougie Hamilton slotted in with Andrew Ference suspeded. He saw 13:32 of ice time.

Final Thoughts: While tonight's game was by no means a train wreck, it's pretty obvious we didn't see the same all-out effort and perfect execution the Bruins displayed in Game 1. They missed Ference and suffered a ton from the Chara-Seidenberg duo being broken up. They'll need to recover and take Game 3 up in Toronto or it'll be time to hover your hand over the panic button.

Bonus Thought: Suspend Dion Phaneuf, Shanny. The head was the principal point of contact on his hit on Dan Paille in the third period. End of story.

Next: As you might've figured out by now, Game 3 is up in Toronto on Monday night.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ