Saturday’s NHL playoffs: Leafs beat Bruins, stay alive
Boston — The Toronto Maple Leafs opened another 4-1 lead in Boston, and this time they held on.
Five years after blowing a three-goal lead in a playoff elimination game against the Bruins, Toronto killed off a 5-on-3 and three more penalties to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and force the series to a sixth game.
“That was a little bit nerve-wracking,” said Toronto forward Nazem Kadri, who returned from a three-game suspension and had an assist. “But we were able to weather the storm. Playoff games on the road, sometimes you just have to survive.”
Connor Brown and Andreas Johnsson each scored his first career playoff goal in the first period, and Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second to make it 4-1 and chase Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Boston cut the deficit to one goal, but the Leafs survived despite a parade of penalties that left four men in the box at one point.
“When you’re down a man six times – and it was six times – it’s ridiculous,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said.
Frederik Andersen stopped 42 shots for Toronto, which returns home for Game 6 on Monday. Game 7 would be back in Boston on Wednesday, if necessary.
When the teams last met in the playoffs in 2013, Toronto twice won to stave off elimination and force the series to a seventh game. Once there, the Maple Leafs took a 4-1 into the third period before the Bruins won in overtime en route to their second Stanley Cup final berth in two years.
“That’s in the past,” Kadri said. “I think it’s time we turn the page on that one.”
Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly scored for the Bruins. After missing one game with an undisclosed injury, Selke Trophy finalist Patrice Bergeron returned to the ice but not to the scoresheet; his line, which had 20 points in the first two games, was held without a goal or assist.
“He made it through today’s game healthy,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We always want to see how they are in the morning. I don’t anticipate there being any issues going into Game 6.”
Rask was pulled after allowing four goals on 13 shots before skipping off to the locker room when he was pulled with 8:05 left in the second.
“Probably could have stopped more pucks with my eyes closed,” he said. “It’s on me, but moving on to the next one and try to finish it off in Toronto.”
Anton Khudobin, making his first career playoff appearance, stopped all eight shots he saw the rest of the way.
“I didn’t think he (Rask) had it tonight. So we went with Anton, who’s been very good for us,” Cassidy said. “And then there’s always that part that gets the rest of the team’s attention.”
Toronto lost the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Boston by a combined score of 12-4, then won the third game at home before dropping the fourth to fall to the brink of elimination.
Leading 4-1 midway through second on Saturday, the Maple Leafs gave Boston four straight power plays but killed each one off. Kuraly made it a two-goal game with about three minutes left in the second and Noel Acciari made it 4-3 six minutes into the third.
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(At) Washington 4, Columbus 3: Nicklas Backstrom scored his second goal of the game 11:53 into overtime to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Braden Holtby made 16 of his 39 saves in the third period to help Washington get to overtime. Four of five games between the teams have gone past regulation making fatigue a factor for Game 6 Monday night in Columbus.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie scored along with Backstrom in regulation for the Capitals, who became the first home team this series to win a home game. Holtby has been in net for Washington’s three consecutive victories after replacing Philipp Grubauer in Game 2, stopping 102 of 108 shots to turn the tide.
Fellow Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky allowed a soft goal to Kuznetsov as one of his four on 29 shots in the loss. Matt Calvert scored short-handed and on a breakaway and Oliver Bjorkstrand had a deflection goal for Columbus.
(At) Tampa Bay 3, New Jersey 1: Nikita Kucherov scored his 27th career postseason goal, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots and Tampa Bay beat New Jersey to end the first-round series in five games.
The 19-year-old Mikhail Sergachev became the youngest player in Lightning history to score a playoff goal and Ryan Callahan, back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury, sealed it with an empty-netter with 1.7 seconds remaining.
Tampa Bay advanced to a second-round series against the Boston-Toronto winner.
Kyle Palmieri scored for the Devils.