Phil Kessel’s third period goal pushes Leafs over Bruins 2-1 in Game 6


Maple Leafs 2, Bruins 1

Toronto dominates at home, forces a Game 7 in Boston on Monday night.

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith their playoff lives on the line the Leafs scored two third period goals to beat the Bruins 2-1 in Game 6 and force a Game 7 after going down in the series 3-1.  Phil Kessel scored the game-winning goal and James van Riemsdyk assisted on both goals while James Reimer made 29 saves in the win.  Milan Lucic had the lone Bruins goal with the goalie pulled.

The Bruins started the game with nearly all of the first two minutes of the contest spent in the Toronto half of the ice.  This caused the Leafs to play on their heals and eventually John-Michael Liles was called for a delay of game penalty.  The Leafs responded well, tightening up to easily kill the first power-play of the game.

After the kill the Leafs started to tilt the ice in their favor with some speedy rushes through the zone.  After two minutes of Leaf dominance the game started to even out in the middle portion of the first period.  After trading chances fairly evenly the Bruins fourth line got a few good chances on James Reimer and momentum seemed to be in the Bruins hands.  However, on the next shift the Leafs got their first power-play of the game with under four minutes left in the first period.

The Leafs power-play was buzzing in large part due to the filtration of offense from Phil Kessel.  James van Riemsdyk would end the power-play when he was called for goalie interference when he fell into Tuukka Rask and a glove save stopped play.  The Bruins would once again put together a terrible power-play, barely getting one shot on net and the teams would go to the room scoreless after one period.

The Bruins would come out with a strong first five minutes again, nearly scoring a few times on a nice shift by the Bergeron line.  James Reimer made two nice saves on Patrice Bergeron during the sequence, one a diving  glove save on a wrap-around.  Much like the first period, the Leafs would storm back with speedy rushes.  The rushes would get the Bruins on their heels but Boston did a good enough job of clogging the lane and preventing follow-up chances.  The Leafs best chance of the night up until this time was when Phil Kessel received a pas on the weak side full speed and fired a wrist shot on net, which Rask saved with a flash of the glove.

The second period was highly contested, both physical and fast.  There were many quick rushes and a bunch of blocked shots.  Despite the feverish pace both goalies were well-protected most of the time because there was so much traffic in the slot.  The Leafs would threaten to open scoring in the dying seconds of the second period when Dion Phaneuf unleashed a mean one-timer from the point but Rask came up with a huge  glove save near his ear with less than two seconds left.

The Leafs would finally open the scoring in the game two minutes into the third period when Dion Phaneuf tipped home a Nazem Kadri shot past Rask.  The play began when David Krejci made an ill-advised back-pass to Milan Lucic, which resulted in a turnover.  The Leafs broke up the ice 3-on-2.  Nazem Kadri would eventually deke middle, Zdeno Chara cleared off of him thinking pass, and fired a nice wrist shot on net from the high slot.  Phaneuf flew down the middle, creating additional space and parked out front where he got the tip past Rask.

The Bruins would get some decent chances in the shifts following the goal but nothing that was out of the ordinary for Reimer to save.  Phil Kessel would double the Leafs lead when he scored a rebound backhand goal with 11 minutes remaining in the game.  The Leafs won a faceoff clean and got a shot from Cody Franson at the point.  The puck got thwarted out front but the Bruins defense did a poor job of clearing the puck out of traffic.  Rask couldn’t see the puck through the bodies and eventually Kessel snuck in the backdoor and threw a backhander past Rask for the easy goal.

The Bruins would then start to take a few risks in an effort to create more offense and despite some elongated shifts in the Leafs zone, they did not press the issue or create offense nearly enough to challenge Reimer.  The Bruins would be forced to pull Rask with just under two minutes left and would cut the lead in half when Milan Lucic put in a one-timer in the paint on a hard pass from Jaromir Jagr in the corner.  Lucic came from the weak side and was uncovered by a defenseman until it was too late.

The Leafs would kill off the remaining 25 seconds thanks to a faceoff win, pinning the puck on the boards, and a blocked shot forcing Game 7 on Monday night.

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Jim Lyons

The blogger formerly known as @BruCrewHockey, posts mostly about hockey but occasionally about music and other random things. @JimmyFausto and @BleedingBruins on twitter.