Maple Leafs: Maple Leafs down Bruins 2-1 to force Game 7...

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Published Time: 03.05.2024 - 03:13:54 Modified Time: 03.05.2024 - 03:13:54

A stylish Swede as cool on the ice as off it, Nylander was around the puck all game, beating Boston goaltender Jeremy Swayman twice, battling for every puck and throwing a huge hit in the third period. Maple Leafs, bruins vs maple leafs, leafs bruins, bruins vs leafs

Nylander scored twice and Woll made 22 saves as the Leafs downed the Boston Bruins 2-1 to force Game 7 in their Original Six matchup.

“We battled and competed,” said Nylander, who sat the first three contests with an undisclosed ailment. “And Woller was incredible.”

Toronto has won two straight — including Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime victory — after falling behind 3-1 to set up a winner-take-all finale Saturday in Boston. Morgan Rielly had two assists.

A stylish Swede as cool on the ice as off it, Nylander was around the puck all game, beating Boston goaltender Jeremy Swayman twice, battling for every puck and throwing a huge hit in the third period.

“Big-time stuff,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “What you’re looking for from a player of his calibre.”

Woll, meanwhile, has rescued Toronto’s season after the rookie took over the crease from Ilya Samsonov after Game 4, allowing two goals in two appearances following his first taste of playoff action in last spring’s second-round loss to the Florida Panthers.

“We got a glimpse of it,” Leafs captain John Tavares said. “The talent’s one thing, but the determination, the belief in himself and just enjoying the moment, trying to thrive with it.”

Toronto has only come back from a 3-1 series deficit to win a series once — in 1942 when the club was down 3-0 to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final.

The Leafs also forced Game 7 after trailing Boston 3-1 in both 2013 and 2018 before losing the series clincher.

“The guys have competed and worked incredibly hard,” said Keefe, whose team was minus ailing star sniper Auston Matthews for a second consecutive do-or-die tilt. “They’ve pulled together. They fought.”

Woll credited another gritty defensive effort in front of him — the Bruins had just one shot on target through 27 minutes.

“Gives me a lot of confidence,” said the 25-year-old, who became the first goaltender in NHL history to have his first four playoff starts come in potential elimination games. “Guys were laying out blocking shots and coming up big.”

Swayman made 24 saves for the suddenly reeling Bruins, who also blew a 3-1 lead against Florida in last year’s first round before losing in Game 7 following a record-setting regular season. Morgan Geekie ruined Woll’s bid for his first playoff shutout with 0.1 seconds left in regulation

“It’s unacceptable,” said Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, who called out star winger David Pastrnak in his post-game comments. “We’ve got to find a way to start on time.

“We’ve just got to be better.”

The winner of Leafs-Bruins will take on the well-rested Panthers in the second round.

Nylander snapped a 0-0 tie with 54.8 seconds left in the middle period with some of his patented Swedish style. The slick winger took a pass in the offensive zone before weaving away from his check and firing a shot that glanced off Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy and beat Swayman.

The goal set off wild celebrations inside an electric Scotiabank Arena — and outside the rink as Maple Leaf Square turned into a blue-and-white mosh pit.

Woll then went to work in the third.

After a shot pinballed just wide with the Bruins buzzing, he made a huge stop with the glove on Charlie Coyle to raucous approval.

“He’s given the group confidence,” Keefe said. “You need that right now.”

Boston continued to press, but Toronto made it 2-0 with 2:13 left in regulation when Nylander moved in alone after taking a pass from Matthew Knies and slid a backhand between Swayman’s pads.

“Remarkable, battled all night, threw a big hit, scored two goals,” Knies said of Nylander. “Can’t ask much more from him. ”

Geekie scored with 0.1 left to spoil Woll’s shutout, but the goal was moot as the series now shifts back to Beantown tied 3-3.

Toronto held a 3-2 edge on the Bruins in 2019, but then dropped two straight for a third series loss against Boston in seven years.

The Leafs, who led 12-2 on the shot clock after the first period of Game 5 and 12-1 in Game 6, came out flying with a couple good chances in a physical opening 20 minutes.

Toronto defenceman Jake McCabe had a terrific look from the slot early in the second. Pastrnak took a double-minor for high-sticking, but the Leafs again could get nothing going with the man advantage to drop to 1-for-20 through six games.

The Bruins finally registered their second shot more than 27 minutes in, and Woll had to be sharp on a couple Pastrnak efforts after that.

Toronto’s under-fire penalty kill — with six goals against in 14 chances entering Thursday — held firm later in the period.

Woll had to make two big stops with the teams back even off McAvoy’s stick.

That set the stage for Nylander at the other end.

“Sucks being on the sidelines,” he said of his earlier absence. “But I was so proud of the team … we’re just competing every night.”

The Leafs need to do it one more time to move on.