May 28, 2024

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Rookies provide Leafs with optimism ahead of showdown with Bruins

Rookies provide Leafs with optimism ahead of showdown with Bruins

when Toronto Maple Leafs They needed a big play or big saves in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins On Tuesday, two rookies showed up and brought the proceedings home.

Matthew Kniss scored an early goal in overtime and Joseph Wall made 27 saves in the team's 2-1 win. Maple Leafswho is now looking to turn the tables and push visiting Boston to the brink of elimination when the two teams meet in Game 6 on Thursday.

“That's what you want to do, right? You want to build positive momentum your way. You want to make them uncomfortable,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “You want to get them to pack up and head to Toronto.”

Boston still leads the best-of-seven series 3-2. The road team has won each of the past four games, including… BruinsSweep Games 3 and 4.

Tuesday's junior tournament was even more important considering Auston Matthews was out of Toronto's lineup due to illness. Matthews led the NHL with 69 goals during the regular season.

“I think our urgency, I think our depth (showed) as well,” Kniss said. “Wall had a great game, and the same with (Max Domi), who took over for Auston. … I think everyone kind of stepped up their game and had urgency, which helped us.”

Knies consistently raised his game throughout the series, while Woll earned his first start in the postseason after previously relieving Ilya Samsonov in Game 4. Woll became the third goaltender in the past 10 years and only the second. Maple Leafs goaltender to record the first two playoff victories of his career in potential playoff games.

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“He's been really building this series,” Keefe said of Kniss. “Game by match, he was getting better.”

Tuesday was a missed opportunity from Boston's perspective Bruins They were unable to close out a five-game series on home ice for the second straight season.

The past is the past, but the Florida Panthers came back from a 3-1 series deficit to eliminate Bruins In a seven-game first-round series last year.

Boston was outscored 33-28 in Tuesday's game, but Toronto's 11-2 lead in shots in the first period provided a clearer picture of how the contest would play out.

“It's hard to say that anyone was close to an offensive breakthrough.” Bruins said coach Jim Montgomery. “Our team’s match (on Tuesday) was not at the required level, and it was not at our level.”

In the eyes of Boston captain Brad Marchand, the slow start was the difference. But now, it's about the next game.

“We needed to be better than we were,” Marchand said. “It's as simple as that. They were ready to play and start the game, and we weren't. Unfortunately, we were never able to match up throughout the game.”

Montgomery hopes BruinsThe previous success in Toronto carries over to Thursday's meeting. Boston also won Maple Leafs on their home ice twice during the regular season.

“We played a couple of really good games there,” Montgomery said. “There's a little bit of a mentality that we have to bring our own juice, and we have to depend on each other.”

– Media at the field level

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