On Monday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs were, once again, forced to play for their playoffs lives. This time around, however, followed a thrilling game five win over the Bruins that stumped the Boston faithful’s round two anticipation. As entertaining as game five was, Toronto was able to survive a late-game Boston push, backstopped by the heroic performance of Fredrik Andersen. The Maple Leafs seemed to feed off of Andersen’s performance as they defeated the Bruins 3-1, subsequently forcing this playoff’s first game seven.
With that said, this win came with a heavy heart, as Torontonians and the world were stunned to learn the news that a tragic incident within their city left ten people dead and 15 injured. As if facing elimination wasn’t enough motivation for the Maple Leafs to win game six, confronting this terrible news only added to their desire to win.
Soon after, before further details of the horrifying news were released, Ron Hainsey, an NHL veteran in the midst of his first year with the Maple Leafs, announced during his pre-game interview that the Leafs were “going to play [their hearts] out for this city”.
A statement game for the both the Maple Leafs and the city; which did not disappoint.
Both goalies continued to be air-tight through 20 minutes until early in the second period when Jake Debrusk broke the deadlock scoring on a deflected shot from just above the face-off circle. Despite the Bruins’ relief, it was a goal that the Maple Leafs weren’t going to let decide the outcome of the game, much like it has throughout the previous five. Just 35 seconds later, William Nylander opened the scoring for Toronto and tied the game off a big rebound, one that Rask failed to control.
This was the first of the playoffs for Nylander who was considered to be in a bit of a dry spell throughout the series; something that is typically uncommon for a second-year stud. The goal had certainly sparked Toronto as another scoring opportunity came and went just moments later. Unfortunately, a goalie interference call negated a Zach Hyman goal that would have put the Maple Leafs up one. This, however, didn’t deflate Toronto as minutes later Mitch Marner found room underneath Rask’ arm on an open backhander from the slot.
The Maple Leafs, were able to carry this lead heading into the third period, hoping to weather the storm once again. While the Bruins pursued yet another late-game push, Toronto managed to withhold the pressure, holding their opponents to seven shots, a significant upgrade from their previous attempts at holding a late game lead. Tomas Plekanec scored a late empty net third period goal securing the Maple Leafs an invite to another game seven matchup against Boston.