Toronto at Boston
Where: TD Garden, Boston
BOSTON – The Boston Bruins struggled down the stretch but they showed no carry-over effects from the late-season slump in their playoff opener. The Bruins turned in a dominating performance in a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday and look to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven set when the Eastern Conference first-round series resumes Saturday night at TD Garden.
Toronto chances of earning a split in Boston and climbing back into the series received a jarring setback when 32-goal scorer Nazem Kadri was handed a three-game suspension Friday for a dangerous hit on Bruins forward Tommy Wingels in the third period. While Kadri maintained after that game that he “certainly wasn’t trying to hit him while he was down like that,” the NHL Department of Player Safety deemed that he drove “recklessly into the defenseless Wingels, causing his head to dangerously impact the boards.” After losing four of their last five games to squander the No. 1 seed in the East, the Bruins turned up the throttle by launching 40 shots on goal and scoring three times on the power play in the opener. “I think as a collective unit we all just looked at each other and said it’s time to go out there and do our thing and not be distracted by anything,” Boston forward David Backes said.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS: Anticipating the suspension of Kadri, Toronto coach Mike Babcock shuffled three of his four lines at Friday’s practice, elevating Leo Komarov to the top line while dropping Zach Hyman to play alongside Mitch Marner and Patrick Marleau, who will slide over to Kadri’s center slot. Andreas Johnsson, a scratch for the series opener, took Komarov’s spot on the fourth line and replaced Kadri on the top power-play unit, which failed on all three chances in Game 1. Babcock rationalized the obstacles awaiting his team by telling reporters Friday: “If you play like we did last night, you probably deserve a little adversity.”
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Boston’s No. 1 line has set the tone all season and little changed in Game 1 as David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron combined for six points, with Pastrnak scoring once and setting up a pair of goals. The Bruins also got a goal and assist from second-line center David Krejci, who has a history of coming up big in the postseason by leading the team in scoring in its last two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals. Center Riley Nash, who has missed six straight games due to a lacerated ear, is not expected back after practicing Friday in a non-contact jersey while Wingels was being evaluated and is listed as questionable.
1. Pastrnak has three goals and four assists in five meetings with Toronto this season..
2. The suspension was the fourth of Kadri’s career, tied for third among active players.
3. Bruins D Torey Krug collected two assists in the opener, boosting his season total to six points versus the Maple Leafs.