Maybe the Bruins, led by the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, would have blitzed the Leafs anyway in Game 2 but there is no doubt Kadri's absence helped the knee-capping. That moved Sean Kuraly up to Nash's third-line role with Tommy Wingels dressed for fourth-line duty.
As uncertainty surrounded the team prior to the game, Tuukka Rask stepped up and backstopped the B's to a huge victory in Toronto. Riley Nash has played that position. It's always like that, after every game, you refocus and readjust and they do the same thing. "It was the easiest plug-and-replace because he's been there".
Tied 1-1 in the second period, Nash won an important defensive zone draw after Boston had iced the puck and was left with a exhausted group of players on the ice that moments later led to the winning goal. All other series now stand 2-1 at press time (Wednesday).
The first period ended with the Bruins going four consecutive periods without a goal from the forwards.
This is the type of effort that will lead to a long run in the playoffs.
Another 2-on-1 factored into the 3-1 advantage when Jake DeBrusk finished off David Krejci's feed for the insurance goal at 4:17 of the third.
Boston's offense attempted 32.9 shots per game in the regular season, leading to 3.3 goals per contest (ranked sixth overall in the NHL). While Tomas Plekanec did an admirable job filling in for Kadri against Bergeron as the Leafs won Game 3 and even scored a goal in the Game 4 loss to the Bruins, it just wasn't the same level.
Rask was the difference-maker Thursday. Surprises continue to surface as the Vegas Golden Knights swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of their playoff series, putting the final nail in the Kings' coffin with a 1-0 shutout in Game 4. I say this because I favor Boston here and it's unsafe to play the regulation line because of the threat of overtime...
Toronto has managed 30.4 shot attempts per game over its last five road games while Boston has been attempting 35.8 shots per game over its last five at home. Once we found our legs it was very important we not lose the second period in this building.
There may not be another opportunity to see Plekanec score again seeing as how the Leafs are staring elimination in the face on Saturday. "And he was", said Cassidy, whose team stumbled down the stretch to lose out to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the battle for the top spot in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference before getting off to a strong playoff start.
Here's how to watch Bruins-Leafs Game 5 online.
Captain Zdeno Chara stepped up in Game 4 by shutting down Auston Matthews while playing a game-high 26:43.
"We had a breakaway and a good 2-on-1, and we got nothing out of it", Babcock said.
Much like during the 2013 playoffs when the coaching staff showed players video of the scene at Maple Leaf Square to pump them up, Babcock is using the fan base to inspire his troops ahead of the do-or-die showdown on Saturday.