May 26th, 2024

Brad Marchand scores two, Bruins down Maple Leafs 4-2 to take 2-1 series lead

By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press on April 24, 2024.

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs' Tyler Bertuzzi (59) as Bruins' Hampus Lindholm (27) and Brandon Carlo (25) defend and Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews (34) looks on during third period action in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Toronto on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Brad Marchand had a relatively quiet – at least by his in-your-face standards – start to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Sure, the Bruins captain drew some key penalties and picked up three assists through six periods against the Maple Leafs.

He’d also yet to truly leave his mark.

And it felt like only a matter of time before one of the NHL’s best both with the puck on his stick, and at hockey’s dark arts when it isn’t, properly entered the fray.

The moment arrived Wednesday.

Marchand scored twice, including the winner, in a three-point performance as Boston picked up a 4-2 victory to grab a 2-1 lead in this first-round series on a night where the home side was left frustrated by a player who’s spent a lot of his career doing exactly that.

“The gamesmanship and everything, it’s world class,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He’s been in the league long enough “¦ he gets calls.

“It’s unbelievable, actually, how it goes. We’ve got to play through that.”

Marchand got tangled up with Tyler Bertuzzi in the second period with Toronto up 1-0. A frothing Scotiabank Arena crowd clamouring for a penalty, the referees took no issues before Trent Frederic scored the tying goal seconds later.

“I don’t think there’s another player in this series that gets away with taking out Bertuzzi’s legs the way that he does,” Keefe continued. “It’s an art and he’s elite at it.

“We have to manage our way through that.”

Jake DeBrusk had the other goal for Boston. The Bruins got 28 stops from Jeremy Swayman, who made 35 saves in his team’s 5-1 victory in Game 1 before giving way to crease counterpart Linus Ullmark in the Leafs’ 3-2 triumph two nights later.

“We stuck with it all game,” Marchand said. “We elevated to another level.”

Bertuzzi and Matthew Knies replied for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov made 30 saves. Leafs winger William Nylander missed a third straight contest with an undisclosed injury.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven matchup goes Saturday. Game 5 is set for Tuesday in Boston.

Moments after Toronto tied things 2-2 in the third, and then nearly grabbed the lead off a Swayman turnover, Marchand took a pass from Danton Heinen and ripped a shot past Samsonov’s ear at 11:53.

Toronto pulled its goaltender for the extra attacker with just over two minutes to go, but Leafs captain John Tavares took a holding penalty with 64 seconds left and Marchand sealed it into the empty net.

“He obviously wants to get under our skin and influence the refs,” Knies said. “We’ve just got to be composed and not get into that bulls—.”

Tied 1-1 through 40 minutes, DeBrusk bagged his third goal in as many games when he scored on a man advantage 67 seconds after the restart off a Marchand rebound when the Leafs lost structure on their struggling penalty kill.

Toronto’s power play came over the boards a few minutes later, but couldn’t connect despite a couple of great chances for Bertuzzi, slipping to 0-for-5 on the night and 1-for-11 in the series.

Bruins winger James van Riemsdyk hit the post on a partial break midway through the period before Bertuzzi tipped a Morgan Rielly shot off Boston defenceman Hampus Lindholm to tie the game 2-2.

Marchand – seemingly always in the thick of things at this time of year – responded just 28 seconds later to give his team a lead it would never surrender to re-establish home-ice advantage.

The Leafs opened the scoring at 13:10 of the second when the under-fire Mitch Marner – without a point through two games and the subject of intense media scrutiny – slid a pass for Knies to redirect.

Samsonov stopped van Riemsdyk on another partial break, but the Bruins tied it at 17:37 when Frederic fired his second of the series in off the post.

The play unfolded as Marchand and Bertuzzi – teammates last season in Boston – got tangled up in the neutral zone, and moments after Leafs star Auston Matthews was tackled by Charlie McAvoy.

“Bert and I get tied up one shift,” Marchand said in trying to downplay the narrative. “But outside of that I’m not really in the mix with anything. I’m just trying to play.”

“It’s what he does,” Bertuzzi said. “He’s been doing it for a long time. I don’t expect it to stop.”

The Leafs will now look to regroup after playing their first home game since April 13 – or face the tall task of winning three straight against an opponent that has won eight of the last nine meetings between the teams.

“At times we played well,” Keefe said. “Not well enough to get the win.”

Part of the equation was how the Leafs handled Marchand.

ON SCHEDULE

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery was asked about a playoff schedule that sees two days off on either side of Game 4.

“I would have rather been here Thursday/Saturday, if I’m being honest,” he said.

“I think we’re spending more time in Toronto than Toronto’s spending in Boston.

“And we’re the home team.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2024.

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