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Matthews' dominant performance helps Leafs earn split in Boston


The Maple Leafs held a media availability at their hotel in Boston before flying home on Tuesday. The Bruins held an optional practice at Warrior Ice Arena. 


Auston Matthews took over Game 2 and the Boston Bruins could only tip their hat to Toronto's 69-goal man afterwards. 

"What I've been impressed with is how tenacious he's been on pucks," Bruins coach Jim Montgomery told reporters following an optional practice on Tuesday. "How tenacious he's been on the forecheck. He's been relentless with his work ethic."

The 26-year-old centre picked up two assists and scored the game-winning goal on a breakaway in the third period on Monday. Whenever the Leafs needed a big play, Matthews was there. His first assist came just 14 seconds after Boston opened the scoring and immediately quieted the TD Garden crowd. 

"First goal, he wins a battle, rings it off the crossbar, ends up in our net," Montgomery said. 

Max Domi scored off the rebound of the Matthews shot. 

In the second period, Matthews made a nice backhand pass to set up a John Tavares power-play goal, which tied the game again. 

Midway through the third period, with the tension rising, Domi flipped an alley-oop pass to Matthews who caught it at the offensive blue line and blew past Charlie McAvoy before beating Linus Ullmark

"The way those guys connected there is big-time stuff," said Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. "And the finish was really great."

"He gets in behind us," Montgomery said. "We can't let him get in behind us. He's the most dangerous man on the ice, you have to be tighter, but he's the most dangerous man on the ice because he's earned it." 

Matthews tied for the game high with six hits. He also won 70 per cent of his faceoffs. 

"I mean, that goal was pretty incredible," raved winger Matthew Knies. "He was good at the faceoff dot. He was being physical. He was involved in all goals, so a pretty good leader and a guy we can look up to."

Matthews played a team high 23 minutes and 24 seconds. He finished the night with eight shots and also steered a loose puck out of danger in the Leafs crease in the final minute. 

"In so many regards, he is affecting the game positively for us with the way he worked and the way he competed," Keefe said. "He was hard and physical. He was winning puck battles all over the ice."

Matthews had gone three games without a goal, which was his longest drought since November. On Monday night, he wouldn't be denied. 

"A hell of a game by him and just driving our team," said Tavares, who handed Matthews the player-of-the-game puck in the dressing room. 

The Leafs haven't won a game that Matthews didn't pick up a point in since March 9 when he was blanked in Montreal. 

"This guy is really important for us," goalie Ilya Samsonov said before cracking a smile. "We need he score every game."

ContentId(1.2108493): Bruins coach Montgomery praises Matthews: 'He's the most dangerous man on the ice'


Asked about Matthews in the immediate aftermath of Game 2, Keefe went out of his way to praise Mitch Marner. 

"This is a night where Marner was all over the game, too," Keefe pointed out. "He was making plays offensively for us, too, at different times. Great defensive plays. He is playing almost every shift against [David] Pastrnak and doing a really good job helping us there and on the penalty kill."

The numbers don't look great so far as Marner has been held without a point in two games and was the only Leaf to be on the ice for both Bruins goals in Game 2.  

"Mitch, even last night, didn't get on the sheet but there's a few plays he made at different times to advance the puck and get us out of trouble," Keefe said. "That's important. The way the matchups roll right now, those guys are taking on some tough responsibility playing against Pastrnak and have done a really good job of it."

Shot attempts favoured the Bruins 9-4 when the line of Marner, Tavares and Knies was on the ice in Game 2. That was the only Leafs line below 50 per cent in possession on Monday, per 

"We just got to be clean through our neutral zone, have speed off the puck, and play behind them," said Knies. "We made cute plays in front of them, but if we play behind them that will help benefit our O-zone time." 

"I got no issues with that line," Keefe insisted. "They're doing a good job. I just watched a bunch of forechecks here this morning, those guys are really working and competing and creating lots of pressure up ice, which is allowing them to spend less time in our end. I like a lot about what that group is doing."

With one exception. That line was on the ice in the final seconds of the first period when Pastrnak got loose in the slot and hammered home a goal. 

"We had one mistake on the faceoff last night but, aside from that, through two games I've liked what we've gotten from that line," Keefe continued. "Each line's not going to roll every single night offensively. Their time will come in the series, but I like what they’ve done so far. I like what they've done so far defensively and they're a big part of last night's win."

Pastrnak has been limited to just two shots in 5-on-5 play in the series. 

ContentId(1.2108470): Keefe defends Marner, second line: 'Their time will come'


Tuesday was a travel day for the Leafs, so there was no practice. What does that mean for injured winger William Nylander

"Obviously there's no update," said Keefe. "There's not much happening for us today except for getting ready to travel."

As for Nylander's chances of playing in Game 3?  

"There's a possibility for us tomorrow, I guess, is all we would say," the coach concluded. 

The 98-point winger has left a hard hole to fill in the Leafs lineup. 

"I don't know if you necessarily adjust when you lose players," said Keefe. "It affects your special teams, right, power play especially. In Game 1, we went with [Calle] Jarnkrok, last night we went with [Tyler Bertuzzi on the top unit]. You're trying to kind of fill the void and find something that works there and we liked the way it worked last night. But at 5-on-5, you plug the hole. Jarnkrok comes back at the time we lose Willy, so that's helpful. You just press on. In terms of our game or style of play, you don't overthink that. It's playoff time and there's a certain style of play that's required whether Willy's in or not. I think we've done a pretty good job of that through two games. We've liked that."

ContentId(1.2108476): All In: Not much to say on Nylander after feel-good win


Samsonov slammed the door over the final 40 minutes on Monday to snap a personal three game losing streak and pick up his first win since April 8. 

"We love him," said Tavares. "I think as a teammate, you admire that and you appreciate that and certainly respect the hell out of it. He's battled hard all year, which hasn't been the way you'd draw it up, but you just keep putting your head down and going forward."

Samsonov made a brilliant pad stop on Brad Marchand early in the third period to keep the game tied. 

"I'm just trying to push hard as I can," he said of the save. "It's not special. Just doing your work, moment by moment."

Samsonov has consistently spoken about living in the moment. That's how he got his season back on track. He cleared waivers on Jan. 1 after a nightmare start to the year before reclaiming Toronto's No. 1 job. 


Montgomery had no regrets about going to Ullmark in Game 2. 

"No second-guesses," the Bruins bench boss said. "He was terrific. He made multiple big-time saves. It is the strength of our team. Both of them play really well."

Jeremy Swayman was excellent in Game 1 on Saturday. He is 4-0-0 against the Leafs this season and will almost certainly start on Wednesday. 

"We just got to get in front of him, live inside the paint and kind of just make life hell for him around the net," said Knies. "And I think that's we did a good job of that in Game 2. We just got to focus and execute on that in Game 3."

The Bruins have rotated between Ullmark and Swayman in 28 straight games dating back to February. 

"We were prepared to play against both goalies in this series, and that's how it's worked out," said Keefe. "But regardless of who's in the goal, the plan remains the same. You've got to get to the net. You've got to have traffic. You've got to create rebounds. You've got to do all the things that are required to score this time of year. We were able to get Auston in alone last night. We were alone a couple of times in Game 1 as well, not quite as clean as that. But you've got to make good on those types of opportunities because they're very rare. But otherwise, you're just trying to stress whoever's in net as much as you can with traffic and pucks flying in and pace and all those kind of things. So whoever we see in the goal, the plan for us doesn't change."

ContentId(1.2108471): Leafs plan to 'make life hell' for Swayman in Game 3


Bertuzzi took a penalty late in the third for slashing Marchand on the back of the leg. 

"That was a big kill by the guys," Bertuzzi said. "That was not a good penalty by me. They bailed me out."

Bertuzzi and Marchand exchanged words at the buzzer. What was said? 

"It's between me and Brad," Bertuzzi said with a smile. 

Domi says the Leafs sent a message early in the series that they would not back down. That message was received. 

"They're playing a really good playoff-type game right now," Marchand told reporters. "You knew they would, they're built different than in the past years. They're playing a lot more physical, a lot more committed to forechecking, playing very tight defensively. Gotta give them credit, they're one of the top teams for a reason. And then when you add their offensive ability on top of that, they're a tough team to play right now."

Bertuzzi played for the Bruins last season after being acquired in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings. He said earlier this season that he learned Marchand is actually "a good guy" last year. Will this series test that assessment? 

"I'll stick with my word," he said with a grin. "But it's playoff hockey. I'm just gonna keep going."

ContentId(1.2108563): Marchand credits physical Leafs: 'They’re built different than in the past'


After scoring in the first, Domi celebrated in the face of Bruins fans on the glass. He relishes the chance to play in this type of atmosphere. 

"It's what it's all about right," he said. "You got to give credit to this building, obviously good atmosphere, had some fun out there and big win so excited to go home all tied."

What has Knies noticed about Domi? 

"Just how fearless he is," the rookie said. "Always goes in for contact, always tries to get under their skin."

In many ways, Domi comes by it honestly. His dad, Tie Domi, is third all-time in NHL penalty minutes. 

Tie scored seven goals in 98 playoff games with the Leafs. What does Max remember about being in the building as a kid during playoff time in Toronto? 

"Don't remember anything to be honest," the 29-year-old said, "so I'm excited to get home and check it out."

ContentId(1.2108472): 'Fearless' Domi eager to see what playoffs in Toronto are really like


Bruins defenceman Andrew Peeke left Monday's game with an injury and is considered week-to-week. He will not travel with the Bruins to Toronto. 

"It is a tough blow," Montgomery acknowledged. "He's been really good for us."

Parker Wotherspoon appears to be the next-man up on the blue line. Mason Lohrei was recalled from the AHL and is also an option to draw in on Wednesday.

"It's a position of strength for us," said Montgomery. "The depth is good."

Derek Forbort will make the trip to Toronto, but isn't expected to be available for Game 3.