|Leafs aim to even series vs. Bruins|
TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are a better team than shown by the results of the first two games of the first-round playoff series with the Boston Bruins.
They proved it Monday with a 4-2 victory at the Air Canada Centre in Game 3. They will have a chance Thursday night to even the series at two games each at the ACC.
"We knew we had to be better than we were in the first two games and we came into that game with more motivation, we came in more competitive," Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly said Wednesday. "That's what we felt we had to do as a group. I think we all did that."
The Bruins won the first two games of the series 5-1 and 7-3 in Boston.
"We knew they were going to be better, and they were," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. "They were out there flying around and making some good plays and pushed us back on our heels. ... It felt like it was there for the taking, and it just slipped away. That stuff's going to happen sometimes."
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock felt the score of Game 2 was not a good indication of how his team played.
"I thought Game 1 we were no good, I thought Game 2 we were way better than the score indicated, to be honest with you," Babcock said. "I thought we started good in that game and it didn't go our way, it kind of came unraveled. I thought (Monday) we had a better push. Our goaltender (Frederik Andersen) kind of part way through the game really settled in and got playing the way he's capable of playing.
"That made a huge difference for us. Obviously, our fans and our building, we had last change, all those things."
Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov is expected to miss his second straight game Thursday after leaving Game 2 with a lower-body injury. That means center Dominic Moore likely will be in the lineup again.
The Bruins are impressed by the stretch passes used by the Maple Leafs.
"It's tough," Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. "We've seen it a couple times this series where the D will jump in and next thing you know they're off to the races. They play that style where they just want to counter so fast with their speed. They want to use their speed at all times. So, you've really got to make sure you're counting five guys all the time and keeping them in front of you because they'll go for those stretches, those breakaways."
Said Babcock: "I just think that any time you can transition from defense to offense fast, you have a better chance to have success, for sure. In saying that, the Bruins have done a pretty good job against us and we haven't had as much success at that as we normally have. The other thing about it is, the harder you come back and defend quickly, the better chance you have to have success in that transition. We have to do a better job in that area if we're going to continue to have success."
The Bruins outshot the Maple Leafs 42-30 but their top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, so dominant in the first two games, did not get a point in Game 3.
"I don't think they'll be frustrated at all," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy. "They've been through -- Pasta not as much, the other two have been through -- a lot of playoffs. Sometimes it's going to go your way. Sometimes it's not. Pasta had a lot of good looks that he's going to finish. We saw it in the first two games. Clearly, it's going to give them motivation. It should. When you keep them off the scoresheet, it'll be talked about. At the end of the day, I don't think it'll bother them one bit."
Boston's No. 1 line accounted for 20 points in the first two games before it was blanked Monday.
"I think if you're those guys, what they're saying to themselves is they say, 'We're going to have a better night.' Right?" Babcock said. "They've shown over a period of time they have lots of good nights. Our job is to make sure they don't. The other thing that happened in the game is Freddie (Andersen) was real good. Not as much early, but really got his game going. If you look at Game 2, it wasn't that way. That's probably the biggest difference of anything."
Babcock expects the Bruins to bounce back with a strong effort.
"I think this will be the most competitive game so far in this series," he said. "Obviously, they're going to be ready to play. Any time you don't win, you want to bounce back hard. We expect their best game, for sure."