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Swayman and DeBrusk beat Bruins 5-1 in Game 1

By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press on April 20, 2024.

Boston Bruins’ Jake DeBrusk (74) scores against Toronto Maple Leafs’ Ilya Samsonov (35) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first round playoff series Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON – The Maple Leafs fired four shots at Jeremy Swayman within the first 90 seconds on Saturday.

The club fished the puck out of the net moments later after the Bruins took advantage of an error.

Toronto got a 4-on-3 power play early in the second period but failed to connect before superstar Auston Matthews beat the Boston goalie with a loose puck, only to find his golden opportunity painfully finding iron. A minute later the home team was already 2-0 ahead.

Mental lapses, special teams, missed opportunities and superior performances in the opposite direction have been hallmarks of the recent Leafs postseasons.

That script played out again in an electric TD Garden.

Swayman was outstanding with 35 saves and Jake DeBrusk scored twice as part of a three-point night in Boston’s 5-1 win over Toronto to open the team’s first round of the playoffs.

“They’re a very patient team,” said Matthews, who led the NHL with a career-high 69 goals in the regular season. “Executed based on the mistakes we made.

“I got a taste of what this series is about. “¦ we have to take our game to the next level.”

John Beecher, Brandon Carlo and Trent Frederic, in an empty net, also scored for Boston. Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy each had two assists as the Bruins continued their dominance over the Leafs after a perfect 4-0-0 regular season.

David Kampf answered for Toronto, which gave the Bruins five power plays on mostly undisciplined or careless sequences — Boston connected on two — and went 0-for-3 on its man advantages. Ilya Samsonov stopped 19 shots.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series kicks off on Monday.

Leafs winger William Nylander was out with an undisclosed injury – the first game he has missed since November 2016 due to something other than illness.

“We’ve played without guys at several points and we’ve handled that really well,” Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We didn’t handle it very well tonight. We certainly missed him.

“But he has nothing to do with us taking too many penalties or giving up a 2-on-1 match.”

Toronto won its first postseason series in 19 years last spring before losing to the Florida Panthers in the second round. Boston had a record-breaking 2022-2023 season, but also fell to the Panthers.

“We can take a lot out of this game and try to course correct,” said Matthews, whose team lost its playoff opener at home to the Tampa Bay Lightning about 12 months ago before winning four of the next five to to advance for the first time since the match. 2004. “We just have to come out and take our game to the next level.”

Toronto and Boston will meet in the first round for the fourth time in the past 12 years. The Bruins won the three previous series – in 2013, 2018 and 2019 – in seven games.

After the visitors aimed that early salvo at Swayman, Boston took a 1-0 lead at 2:26 when Beecher scored his first career playoff goal on an odd rush.

Samsonov heard an iron symphony behind him as the opening period progressed. Coyle hit the post before both McAvoy and Pavel Zacha fired from the crossbar.

Bruised Bruins forward Pat Maroon also nearly benched Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren on a pulsating rink where Toronto winger Max Domi cross-checked and cut off Marchand before the opening faceoff.

The Leafs couldn’t capitalize on their 4-on-3 advantage to start the second and Calle Jarnkrok – back in the lineup after a long injury absence – was stopped moments later after a partial break.

“Really slow, broken,” Keefe said of his power play. “Not good enough.”

Matthews won the race with Swayman shortly afterwards, but rammed the attempt off the near post.

“Huge,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought it was 1-1 as soon as he passed Sway. We need to be better in those areas.”

The Bruins made the Leafs pay for that miss.

Carlo fired a shot past Samsonov as Leafs forward Pontus Holmberg screened his netminder at 5:47 for a 2-0 lead.

Boston’s beleaguered power play — at least until Saturday — went to work next.

DeBrusk broke his first through another screen while Matthews was out for high-sticking at 15:02.

Domi then took a cutting penalty and DeBrusk added his second for a 4-0 lead at 17:34.

“I understand what he’s trying to do,” Keefe said of Domi. “That’s where I crossed the line.”

“We have to be a little more prepared to tone it down,” added Leafs winger Tyler Bertuzzi, who took a penalty in the first inning. “Don’t be so emotionally invested.”

The Leafs got a goal on the fourth line at 1:39 when Kampf beat Swayman.

But it wasn’t nearly enough for a team waiting to hear Nylander’s status on Monday.

“Hard to go into the playoffs without him,” Keefe said. “But not the storyline here for us.

“There are other things we need to do much better.”

THE GAMEMANSHIP BEGINS

Keefe would not discuss Nylander’s injury status with reporters, while Montgomery did not reveal his starting goaltender until Swayman led Boston onto the ice for warmups.

“One of the guys who wears pads,” the Boston coach said Saturday morning when asked about his choice between Swayman or Linus Ullmark.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2024.

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