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Marchand stars again, Swayman solid as Bruins push frustrated Leafs to the brink

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press







Published Saturday, April 27, 2024 10:59PM EDT






Last Updated Saturday, April 27, 2024 11:32PM EDT

TORONTO – Brad Marchand became the Bruins’ all-time leading playoff goal-scorer and added an assist as Boston suffocated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Saturday to take a 3-1 lead in the teams’ first-round playoff series.

James van Riemsdyk and David Pastrnak had the other goals for Boston, which can close out the best-of-seven series Tuesday at home in Game 5. Jeremy Swayman made 24 saves.

Mitch Marner replied for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov stopped 14-of-17 shots in 40 minutes of action. Joseph Woll played the third and finished with five saves. Leafs star Auston Matthews, who missed practice Friday, played two periods, but didn’t come out for the third.

Game 6, if necessary, would be back in Toronto on Thursday.

Leafs winger William Nylander made his 2024 playoff debut after missing the first three games with an undisclosed injury.

Swayman, who also played Games 1 and 3, got the start over Linus Ullmark as the Bruins strayed from their crease rotation that had seen the goaltenders rotate starts since February.

Toronto, which won a post-season series for the first time since 2004 last spring, was unable to connect on two first-period power plays – dropping to 1-for-13 in the series – with the crowd buzzing before the visitors pushed ahead.

Leafs tough guy Ryan Reaves had the puck in the defensive zone, but had it knocked off his stick by Bruins rookie defenceman Mason Lohrei. Van Riemsdyk, who played in Toronto from 2013 though 2018, jumped on the miscue and outwaited Samsonov to score his first goal of the series at 15:09.

Toronto winger Max Domi took a cross-checking penalty seven minutes into the second, and Boston’s red-hot power play took advantage with its sixth goal in four games when Marchand one-timed his second of the playoffs – and the 56th of his post-season career to pass Cam Neely for top spot in franchise history – at 8:20.

The goal was also Marchand’s 12th playoff goal at Air Canada Centre/Scotiabank Arena to tie Bryan Trottier for the most by a visiting player at an opposing arena in NHL history. Trottier scored 12 times in the post-season at Washington’s Capital Centre.

Frustration started to creep onto the Leafs bench as the period progressed, with Matthews and Mitch Marner getting into an animated discussion. William Nylander was caught on camera muttering to himself before Marner slammed his gloves.

The Bruins, who topped Toronto in seven games in the opening round of the 2013, 2018 and 2019 playoffs, put things to bed with 41.6 seconds left in the period on another series of Leafs miscue that led to a 2-on-0 where Marchand fed Pastrnak for his second.

Fans were encouraged to make noise after some criticism about the atmosphere in Game 3, but channelled that energy into a loud chorus of boos as the clock ticked down to the intermission.

The Leafs made the goaltending change and were without Matthews when Toronto defenceman Ilya Lyubushkin rattled Swayman’s crossbar three minutes into the third.

Marner finally got the home side on the board when he slid his first of the playoffs past Swayman at 5:42.

The Bruins goaltender then denied Joel Edmundson on two successive chances with the Leafs pressing.

Toronto got another power play with less than six minutes to go in regulation, but barely gained control in the offensive zone to fall to 1-for-15 in the series.

The boos returned in the final minute to send the Leafs, who now need three straight victories against a team that has won 10 of the last 11 head-to-head, to keep their season alive.

A LEGEND HONOURED

The Leafs paid tribute to late play-by-play man Bob Cole – the famed broadcaster was the voice of hockey for generations of Canadian fans – with a video montage of some of his memorable calls before puck drop. Cole died Wednesday at age 90.

DAD STRENGTH

With two days off between Games 3 and 4, Lyubushkin flew to California to be with his wife following the birth of the couple’s daughter.

Acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in February, the Russian defenceman missed Friday’s practice, but was back in Toronto hours later.

“You feel different energy,” Lyubushkin said of jumping back into playoff action. “It’s good emotion.”

McMANN IMPROVING

Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said winger Bobby McMann – out with a lower-body injury since the regular-season finale April 13 – is expected to resume skating soon.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2024.

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