Controversial Call Lifts the Maple Leafs to Victory Over Boston

Toronto (4) Boston (3) Final

By: Gordon Brown

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Saturday night marked what was essentially a 4-point game between two Atlantic Division rivals, one that could very well be a deciding factor for home-ice advantage in the divisional playoff round.

Toronto welcomed the Boston Bruins into town for a Saturday night matchup on Hockey Night in Canada—but not without significant lineup changes following a recent diagnosis…

Leafs Nation received word on Friday that Auston Matthews will “be out for a bit,” according to head coach, Mike Babcock, after taking an awkward body-check one night prior. It isn’t the worst possible news, considering the Buds held an 11-point cushion on a playoff spot coming into Saturday night. 

With that being said, Mike Babcock rearranged his forward lines as follows:

Hyman - Nylander - Marner

Marleau - Kadri - Komarov

Van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Brown

Leivo - Moore - Kapanen 

Matt Martin was noticeably absent from the group and instead missed his thirteenth-straight game as a healthy scratch. Furthermore, Josh Leivo took to the ice for the first time in 2018 and slotted in on the fourth line, prompting William Nylander’s move to centre on the top line alongside Mitch Marner.

The Bruins, on the other hand, were looking to extend a two-game winning streak of their own with a fully-loaded lineup.

As the action got underway, it was constant action at both ends of the rink as either team battled it out to a 2-2 tie after twenty minutes. 

Brad Marchand managed to break the ice for the Bruins and went on to score his team’s second goal as well. When it was all said and done, Marchand had increased his away points total to 25 (10G, 15A) in 21 games on the road.

Toronto countered with goals from Mitch Marner (16) and Nazem Kadri (22), respectively.

A similar narrative carried into the second frame, except Boston had taken a 3-2 lead courtesy of Jake DeBrusk’s 12th goal of the season. Despite a strong showing in the period, including a dominant 87.5 CF% rating, Toronto saw themselves down a goal with time winding down on the clock. 

With less than one minute remaining, Nazem Kadri secured the equalizer on his second tally of the night. Toronto’s 19th-overall ranked power play was given a prime opportunity and did not fluster with Mitch Marner at the helm. The duo of Kadri and Marner played a game of keep-away from Boston defenders, before Kadri was able to unleash a blistering one-timer past Tuukka Rask—effectively tying the game 3-3.

The final twenty minutes of regulation time would set the stage for a decision to be made, however, the culmination wouldn’t come until late in the frame.

In the dying minutes, the Maple Leafs appeared to take a 4-3 advantage off of a blast from Ron Hainsey—but not without controversy. Ron Hainsey’s slap shot blew by Tuukka Rask, however, there was a strong case for goaltender interference on Zach Hyman’s end. Hyman was battling two Boston defenders before ending up in the crease area, where he continued to spar with Charlie McAvoy and eventually dumped him onto the goaltender.

The Maple Leafs caught a lucky break and were awarded the go-ahead goal with 1:23 left in regulation time, and certainly helped contribute more fuel to the goaltender interface debate.

Boston’s last-gasp effort came up short and Toronto would walk away with a 4-3 victory once the final buzzer sounded.

Following the decision, Toronto set a franchise record home winning streak their ninth-straight victory at Air Canada Centre—the last streak occurred in 2007. It also marks a franchise record 10th win in February for the club. 

Side Notes:

- Nazem Kadri now has 18-points in his last 15-games (8G, 10A)

- Mitch Marner posted 4-points on the night (1G, 3A)

- Frederik Andersen made 20 saves on 23 shots (.870 SV%) 

Feel free to drop me a comment or suggestion:

E-mail - 

On Twitter - @GordBrown_  

Photo Credit: @MapleLeafs 

Advanced Stats: