[dropcap]T[/dropcap]housands of ecstatic “Beleafers” packed the Air Canada Centre and the outdoor viewing area just outside the arena to watch the Maple Leafs host their first playoff game at home in nine years on Monday night against the Bruins.
A few hours later, all of them left the building with nothing to show for the home team’s effort but a free scarf.
David Krejci (three points) and the Bruins spoiled Toronto’s homecoming with a 5-2 victory in Game 3, getting a much-needed road victory to reclaim the series lead.
Adam McQuaid opened up the scoring in the first period with his first career playoff goal on a one-timed slapper from the point that navigated its way past James Reimer. The Bruins had a good amount of success from the point in the first two games of the series and clearly aimed to build off that on Monday night, and found success there early.
Rich Peverley then doubled the B’s lead when Jaromir Jagr stripped a Leafs player of the puck behind the Toronto net and quickly fed it in front to Peverley, who finished the chance for his first playoff goal this year. It was good to see Peverley finally get on the board after being scratched for Game 1, as he was a big part of the Bruins Cup run back in 2011.
The Leafs found light in the second period when Jake Gardiner sniped a puck past Tuukka Rask on the powerplay, cutting the Bruins lead in half and sending the ACC into a frenzy.
The building was quickly quieted when Nathan Horton buried a one-timer just 50 seconds later, reclaiming the Bruins two-goal lead. Two minutes later, Daniel Paille stripped Phil Kessel of the puck in the neutral zone and charged toward Reimer on a breakaway before scoring on the backhand to put the B’s up 4-1.
The Leafs took back some momentum when Phil Kessel was able to put home a rebound in front of Rask at the start of the third period, but the Bruins managed to quell the Leafs for the remainder of the period and capped off the victory with an empty netter from Krejci. The Lucic-Krejci-Horton line finished with two goals and six assists on the night and have combined for 17 points through the first three playoff games.
Rask put forth another tremendous effort between the pipes, stopping 45 shots and coming up with a handful of impressive saves to keep the Leafs at bay.
Overall, it was an encouraging bounceback game for the black and gold. They’ve still got a lot to work on and tighten up defensively, but scoring five goals certainly helps make that less of a concern.