Leafs hang on against Bruins to force Game 6
Frederik Andersen makes 42 saves as Toronto escapes with win
Frederik Andersen finished off an energy drink as he prepared to speak with reporters. Then he paused to take a sip of water in the middle of his first answer.
The exhausted Toronto goalie had earned every drop.
Andersen made 42 saves as the Maple Leafs survived a furious third-period charge from the Boston Bruins to secure a 4-3 victory Saturday and force a sixth game in their first-round playoff series.
"We want to battle for each other," Andersen said. "We want to play for each other in this locker room."
Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist each, while Connor Brown and Andreas Johnsson also scored for the Leafs, who still trail the Bruins 3-2 in their Eastern Conference quarter-final going into Monday's Game 6 back at the Air Canada Centre.
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The owner of a pedestrian .880 save percentage in the series coming into Saturday, Andersen is the main reason the Toronto is still alive.
"You've got to respond right away. That's hockey for you," he said. "A lot of stuff can go wrong and you can feel like you're not getting any bounces your way, but you've just got to battle through it."
'We'll finish it out in Toronto'
Noel Acciari, with a goal and an assist, David Backes and Sean Kuraly replied for the Bruins, who had No. 1 centre Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup after he was a surprise scratch with an upper-body injury in Game 4. Torey Krug added two assists.
Tuukka Rask allowed four goals on 13 shots before getting the hook in favour of Anton Khudobin, who made eight saves.
"Probably could've stopped more pucks with my eyes closed," Rask said. "It's on me, but [I'm] moving on to the next one and we'll finish it out in Toronto."
Boston was 1 for 6 on the power play, including one long 5 on 3 where the Bruins failed to connect, while Toronto scored on its only chance.
Memories of dreadful night
The Leafs fell behind the Bruins 3-1 the last time the teams met in the playoffs back in 2013 before tying the series 3-3. Toronto then led 4-1 in the third period of Game 7 at TD Garden only to have Boston storm back to grab a stunning 5-4 overtime victory.
"That's in the past," said Nazem Kadri, one of five Leafs from that dreadful night still on the roster. "Maybe it's time we turned the page on that one."
Down 4-2 heading to the third, Boston pulled to within one at 5:56 when Acciari batted a loose puck past Andersen following a crazy hop behind the net inside an electric TD Garden after Charlie McAvoy hit the post a few minutes earlier.
Andersen robbed David Pastrnak moments later with a great pad stop to keep the Leafs ahead.
Andersen, Leafs survive tense final minutes
Boston continued to push over a tense final 10 minutes — the Bruins finished with 20 shots in the third — but Toronto held on to stave off elimination.
"He played unbelievable," Leafs centre Auston Matthews said of Andersen. "This [was] do or die for us."
Leafs head coach Mike Babcock juggled his lines with Toronto having scored just nine goals through four games, putting Brown alongside Matthews and Zach Hyman, and slotting Kadri — back from suspension for a dirty hit on Bruins winger Tommy Wingels in the opener — between Johnsson and William Nylander.
Tomas Plekanec skated with Patrick Marleau and Mitch Marner, while van Riemsdyk, Bozak and Kasperi Kapanen made up the fourth trio.
The swaps paid immediate dividends in the first period.
Line juggling pays off
Brown opened the scoring at 6:36, swatting a loose puck out of the air at the side of the net after Krug could only partially block a wraparound attempt from Matthews. The goal was just Brown's second in 27 games, and marked the first time Toronto had led on the road in the series.
The Leafs made it 2-0 at 10:12 on another nice rush. With boos raining down as he crossed the blue line, Kadri slithered a pass down low to Johnsson, who cut behind McAvoy before beating Rask for the rookie's first playoff goal.
Boston got going late in the first and had a couple of good chances on the power play, with Pastrnak hitting the post behind Andersen before the netminder made a nice save on Brad Marchand.
Toronto defenceman Travis Dermott almost caught Rask napping late in the period, but his shot off a harmless looking rush hit the post shortside and stayed out.
Boston cut the deficit in half at 9:45 of the second on the power play when Backes took advantage of a weird bounce off the glass.
But the Leafs got that one back 51 seconds later when Bozak finished off a pretty passing play to make it 3-1.
Toronto then went to the man advantage, with van Riemsdyk roofing a shot on Rask at 11:55 to chase the Boston goalie.
Crucial penalty kill
The Leafs survived a 5-on-3 man advantage where Andersen made a number of big stops, but the Bruins got back to within two with 2:42 left in the period when Kuraly scored to set up a one-sided third.
"That was a little bit nerve-wracking, but that's maturity," Kadri said. "We were able to weather the storm.
"Playoff games on the road, you've got to survive. That's a good road win."