Rejoice, rejoice, the Toronto Maple Leafs have officially won their first playoff game in almost a decade. After a disappointing effort against the Bruins in Game 1, the Buds rebounded and took a 4-2 decision Saturday night.
The two clubs played the game to a scoreless draw in the first period. The second period came around and Boston buried a goal to put the Leafs down 1-0.
But then the dam broke for the Blue and White. They were able to pot three unanswered goals, two by Joffrey Lupul and one extra sweet one by Phil Kessel.
Nazem Kadri was able to set up the streaking winger and he was able to fire the puck home between the legs of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.
It was huge goal for Kessel, as it was his first even-strength tally against the Bruins since the trade to Toronto back in September 2009, and it also gave the Leafs some breathing room in what was sure to be a spectacular finish.
A dramatic ending was set when the Bruins pulled within a goal to make it 3-2, but it was not to be, as a rejuvenated Mikhail Grabovski came flying down the wing and set up James van Riemsdyk for a gorgeous bit of skill that ended with the puck in the back of the B's net.
Toronto made some much-needed changes for Game 2 and they appear to have paid huge dividends. Speedy Matt Frattin and the always-tough Ryan Hamilton made an appearance in the lineup, as did Ryan O'Byrne and the slick Jake Gardiner.
The Leafs were able to play their game and capitalize on opportunities created by their speed and tenacity in the Bruins zone.
Looking ahead to Game 3, the Leafs have some areas to address. They need to limit the amount of shots on James Reimer. Blocking a few more would also be beneficial to help the Leafs netminder.
One thing the Buds did very well last night is go after Zdeno Chara. They should look to finish their checks on him whenever the chance presents itself.
The more they wear the big man down and force him to take penalties, the better the odds of a Leaf chance or goal.
The final point would be for the Maple Leafs to continue to limit their turnovers and effectively break out from their zone. They did this very well last night, and it would be to their benefit to continue this strategy in Game 3.
The Leafs made this a series by stealing a game in Boston. Now the action makes a long-awaited return to Toronto. Big hits, great goals and a high-octane pace are in store for Game 3. Get ready, because Monday night is going to be a doozy.
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