Boston – Sean Kuraly isn’t so good at waiting.
The Boston Bruins forward is usually going full-speed on the ice, whether it’s chasing the puck on the forecheck or sizing up an opponent for a hit. So when he saw David Pastrnak’s shot hit off the post and flutter into the air, it was tough for Kuraly to be patient.
“A play like that doesn’t come around very often. When it does, it’s kind of a waiting game,” he said on Thursday night after bunting the puck into the net to help the Bruins beat Toronto 5-1 in the opener of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
“It’s not really my style,” said Kuraly, who had to resist hitting the puck before it fell below the level of the crossbar to avoid being called for a high stick. “To go from 100 mph and hitting everything that moves and (wait) in front of the net, it can be a challenge.”
Brad Marchand, David Backes and David Krejci each scored a power-play goal, and Tuukka Rask stopped 26 shots for Boston. Pastrnak scored to make it 3-1 with 38 seconds left in the second period, then moved in on goalie Frederik Andersen seven minutes into the third before backhanding the puck off the post.
Kuraly waited, and then two-handed the puck off the shaft of his stick like a bunt as he fell over the sprawling goalie.
“I’m a terrible baseball player,” he said. “It has nothing to do with baseball.”
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is back at the TD Garden on Saturday night.
“We’ve got a day to solve our problems,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “We could feel sorry for ourselves if we want tonight, but that’s a waste of time and energy.”
Boston already scored two power-play goals when Toronto’s Nazem Kadri was thrown out of the game and given a five-minute major for an elbow to Tommy Wingels’ head. Three minutes later, Krejci bounced it in off Andersen from behind to make it 5-1.
“I thought it was the appropriate call,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Where it goes from here is out of my hands.”
Zach Hyman scored Toronto’s only goal, and Andersen made 35 saves.
“They cranked it up, and we didn’t answer,” defenseman Ron Hainsey said.
The matchup is the first in the postseason for the teams since Toronto’s Game 7 collapse in the first round in 2013, when Boston rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the third period, scoring twice in the last 82 seconds of regulation to send it into overtime. The Bruins went on to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Maple Leafs never had a lead to blow in this one.
And the Boston power play was the reason.
“Obviously, our penalty kill wasn’t good enough,” Babcock said. “We took too many penalties in the third, and the third was no contest.”
With James Van Riemsdyk off for hooking, Marchand scored on a backhander to give the Bruins the lead 5:28 into the game. Hyman tied it for the Leafs with about three minutes before the break but Backes put Boston back in front early in the second on a pass from Krejci.
Pastrnak converted a pass from Marchand with 38 seconds left in the period to make it 3-1, and then set up the next goal when he moved in on Andersen and bounced it off the post. As the puck fluttered in the air over the sprawled goalie, Kuraly came in trailing the play and knocked it into the net.
MORE EASTERN CONFERENCE
Columbus 4, (at) Washington 3 (OT): Artemi Panarin scored 6:02 into overtime. Panarin made an incredible individual move to drive by fellow Russian Dmitry Orlov and went backhand-to-forehand to beat Philipp Grubauer top shelf.
Game 2 is Sunday night in Washington.
Alexander Wennberg, Thomas Vanek and Seth Jones scored in regulation, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 27 shots for Columbus, which got two power-play goals to continue a strong trend since the trade deadline.
Wennberg left the game with an upper-body injury in the third period and didn’t return. Jones, son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, drew a penalty late in the third period, almost put the puck in his own net and tied it on the ensuing power play with 4:26 left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
Washington got two power-play goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov on Josh Anderson’s five-minute major penalty for boarding Michal Kempny and an even-strength goal on the rush in the third period by Devante Smith-Pelly. Grubauer, who got the nod to start over 2016 Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Braden Holtby, made 23 saves in his second career playoff start.
(At) Tampa Bay 5, New Jersey 2: Tampa Bay got early goals from four players – none of them named Nikita Kucherov or Steven Stamkos – before holding off New Jersey in Game 1.
Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde scored, helping the Lightning build a 3-0 lead that New Jersey trimmed to one goal before Alex Killorn and Kucherov, who added an empty-netter, finished off the win.
Taylor Hall scored an unassisted goal in the second period, then assisted on Travis Zajac’s power-play goal that cut it to 3-2 midway through third against Andrei Vasilievskiy.
Killorn’s shot over the glove of goalie Kevin Kincaid’s glove restored a two-goal lead before Kucherov, who led the Lightning with 100 points this season, ensured there would be no comeback.
Vasilievskiy made 29 saves.
Game 2 is Saturday at Amalie Arena.
(At) Nashville 5, Colorado 2: Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third period and Nashville rallied to beat Colorado in Game 1 of the first-round Western Conference series.
Pekka Rinne made 25 saves, including a handful on Colorado’s Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon.
Austin Watson had a goal and an assist for Nashville, which has won 11 straight over Colorado. Craig Smith and Colton Sissons scored a goal apiece, and Ryan Johansen had two assists.
Nikita Zadorov and Blake Comeau scored for Colorado.
Game 2 is Saturday in Nashville.
San Jose 3, (at) Anaheim 0: Evander Kane scored two goals in his first career playoff game and Martin Jones made 25 saves. Brent Burns also scored and captain Joe Pavelski had two assists during a three-goal second period to help the Sharks easily take early control in the series between California rivals. San Jose and Anaheim have been regular playoff teams for the past 15 years, yet are meeting in the postseason for only the second time.
John Gibson stopped 30 shots for the Ducks, who lost a series opener at home in their third consecutive playoff series. Anaheim had won seven straight home games down the regular-season stretch, losing in regulation at home just once in 17 games since late January.
Game 2 is Saturday night at Honda Center.