The Toronto Maple Leafs. The Boston Bruins. The playoffs on the line. The easy storyline practically writes itself - but the Toronto Maple Leafs don't like anything easy. We'll recap the timeline after the game in six.
Paul Ranger opened the scoring after Jerry D`Amigo's pass attempt gets caught in a Bruin's feet. Great decision by D'Amigo to pass instead of shoot, even though it's a fortunate foot-bounce that leaves the puck loose. A nice pinch by Ranger, too, that reminds me how much better this team is when the defensemen can get up and into the rush to make offensive plays. Oh, and when the depth players are capable of obtaining and moving a puck.
Less than a minute later, Cody Franson saw Patrice Bergeron, choked immediately, and turned the puck over to Brad Marchand. Franson wouldn't know a safe play if it bit him in the ass, and trying to force the puck up the middle of the Bruins' two forecheckers was never going to happen. Take the outlet pass. Franson would go on to put up two assists, but it's surprising he got any ice time at all after coughing up the puck so badly.
The Leafs would score a pair from their top-flight top line: Phil Kessel generates offense by literally shooting off Tyler Bozak, and JVR continues to be a wizard in close, fed by some great forechecking by Bozak and Kessel. The Bruins pour water on the Leafs' two goal lead, as the Raymond-Bolland-Clarkson line gets humiliated by Krejci and Lucic: Krejci wheels around the back of the net and feeds Lucic a juicy one-timer high in the slot.
Then things take a turn for the tragic: Ranger pushes a Bruin into Bernier, Bernier appears to re-aggravate his groin injury, and gets pulled for James Reimer. In what basically defines "nightmare scenario," Reimer is called upon to protect the Leafs' one goal lead in a Boston-dominated game. Almost immediately, the Leafs give up a goal against that looks identical to the second, but this time with "Bolland" and "Clarkson" written where "Grabovski" and "MacArthur" once stood. Four blue jerseys, none clearing the crease, none taking away the passing lane, none tying up the receiver, and a goalie victimized.
But Nazem Kadri is too talented to repeat history. With an overtime power play for the Blue and White, Nazem Kadri - fresh off the bench because for some unknown reason, the 23 year old on a 54 point pace beat only Jerry D'Amigo for icetime - took a Franson pass down low, and roofed it past Chad Johnson for an overtime win. And - ugly or not - what a satisfying win it was.