Two quick goals in the second period lifted the Bruins to a 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs on Monday night in Toronto's first home playoff game since 2004.
The noise at the Air Canada Centre reached the kind of magnitude that has been a long time coming in Toronto, but in the end it wasn’t enough to faze the more playoff-experienced Bruins.
“It just turned out to be another game,” said Daniel Paille, who scored Boston’s fourth goal of the game while shorthanded late in the second. “It was exciting, but at one point I just closed my eyes and didn’t think like anybody was there, so for me I was just focused on our game.”
After the Bruins had staked a 2-0 lead to quiet the ACC crowd of 19,746, Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner brought the fans back to life with his goal at 13:45 of the second.
But Nathan Horton scored his third of the series just 50 seconds later to deflate the amped up spectators.
“You could feel the electricity in the air,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “To me that was the big turning point that we could come back in the next shift and score that big goal and take the energy right out of the building and from there on in we had better control the rest of the period.”
Though the atmosphere wasn’t enough to put the Bruins off their game, it certainly served to ramp up the energy for both teams as the bodies were flying all night.
The teams combined for 99 hits with the Bruins holding a slight edge in that category at 51-48. That’s 20 more than in Game 2 when the Bruins were outhit by the Leafs and ultimately lost the game 4-2.
“We were much better in that aspect,” Paille said of his team’s increased physicality. “We did a great job going into the second period as well. In the third period we were still there but they pressured a little bit better. We definitely wanted to come back stronger tonight and we answered the call when we had to.”
The Bruins were also able to withstand a flurry of Maple Leafs shots in the third period. Toronto outshot Boston 18-6 in the final frame, with Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask needed to come up big. He finished the game as the first star with 45 saves.
“Until the third period it was a pretty good tilt from our end about not giving up many shots. They came out in the third a desperate team,” said Julien. "We knew they were going to throw everything at us. We needed good goaltending and we tried to minimize the scoring chances and be patient.”
Boston leads the series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Wednesday in Toronto.