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Matthews scores winner in the third, Maple Leafs down Bruins 3-2 to even series 1-1

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Auston Matthews scored the winner in the third period and added two assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs topped the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Monday to even their first-round playoff series 1-1.

The star centre took a lob pass from Max Domi and moved in alone on Linus Ullmark before making a move to the forehand with 7:54 left in regulation time to give the Leafs their first lead against the Bruins in the last six games — including four in the regular season.

The goal was the first for Matthews in the playoffs in his last seven contests.

Domi and John Tavares had the other goals for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov made 27 saves.

The Leafs were minus star winger William Nylander for a second straight game with an undisclosed injury after suiting up for all 82 regular-season contests.

David Pastrnak and Morgan Geekie replied for Boston. Ullmark stopped 30 shots for the Bruins, who downed the Leafs 5-1 in Saturday's opener with Jeremy Swayman in net.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series goes Wednesday in Toronto. The teams then get two days off before Saturday's Game 4.

The Leafs got the better of the Bruins for the first time in nine games — a stretch of more than 530 days — stretching back to November 2022.

After Matthews gave Toronto the lead, Boston got a power play with six minutes left on the clock, but the Bruins never really threatened Samsonov before the puck stayed out on a mad scramble in the visitors' crease that included Matthews denying a chance in the final minute.

Boston, which topped Toronto in the first round in 2013, 2018 and 2019, opened the scoring at 10:18 of the first period when Geekie finished off a nice sequence with Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk after Leafs defenceman Jake McCabe took an undisciplined cross-checking penalty.

Toronto pushed right back just 14 seconds later.

Matthews fired a shot off the crossbar and Domi, who took a bad penalty Saturday that led to a Bruins goal, buried the rebound on his second effort before emphatically motioning to the TD Garden crowd in celebration.

The Leafs got their first power play and Matthews, who bagged 69 goals in the regular season, had another good chance that Ullmark stopped with his right pad.

The visitors were in good shape and poised to head to the intermission tied when disaster struck.

Samsonov misplayed an easy dump-in that led to Charlie Coyle rattling a shot off the side of the netminder's mask. After a delay to get some equipment repairs, Tavares lost the offensive zone faceoff and Mitch Marner fell asleep in coverage, allowing Pastrnak to one-time a blast off a sweet feed from Pavel Zacha with 7.8 seconds left on the clock.

Ullmark, who got the start despite Swayman's 35-save performance in Game 1 to continue Boston's crease rotation, made a terrific glove stop on Calle Jarnkrok in the second that was confirmed after video review to make sure the netminder's left hand didn't cross the line.

Tyler Bertuzzi — a trade deadline acquisition by Boston last spring before signing with Toronto — appeared to tie the game 2-2 on a power play late in the period, but the call was reversed following another review after he was judged to have batted the puck in with a high stick.

But the Leafs still had almost two minutes left on that man advantage and got even when Tavares, who drew the penalty, took a pass from Matthews in the slot and fired past Ullmark's blocker as Toronto's power play finally connected on its sixth opportunity of the series.

Samsonov made a huge stop at full stretch early in the third on a Marchand chance before Ullmark robbed Nick Robertson, again in the lineup for Nylander, at the other end with the glove before Matthews provided the margin of victory.

NYLANDER SKATES

The talented winger sat again despite taking part in Toronto's morning skate. Nylander didn't join the line rushes and wasn't included in the power-play drills.

Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, who had previously said there would be no injury updates, left the door open for the Swede to play, but all signs pointed to him watching from the press box.

GOALIE SHUFFLE

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery continued to play coy with his goaltending choice before the game — and had a little fun with reporters.

"Do you guys play Wordle?" he said Monday morning of the popular game. "The goalie tonight has two vowels in his first and last name."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2024. 

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