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Maple Leafs vs. Report Cards Bruins: William Nylander and Joseph Woll send him to Game 7

The idea of ​​a Game 7 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins once seemed nearly impossible, and yet here we are. In another tight defensive performance, the Leafs beat the Bruins 2-1 in Game 6 on Thursday to tie the series 3-3.

Toronto was in control in the first period, limiting the Bruins to a single shot by Jake DeBrusk while shorthanded. Boston had nothing to do at five on five. Shot attempts between the two clubs were close, but the Bruins were unable to score. That’s partly because his shots were simply going wide, but the Leafs also did a good job of getting ahead of his attempts and redirecting high, wide shots.

The Bruins didn’t start getting chances until midway through the second, and Joseph Woll was up to the challenge. Despite power play opportunities on both sides, including a double minor against Boston, it looked like the game was going to remain scoreless heading into the third until William Nylander scored his first of the playoffs in the final minute. In the third period, both teams pushed for the next goal, and some solid work and fortunate rebounds kept the puck out of the Leafs’ net.

With time running out, Nylander scored his second goal of the game, putting the Leafs up by two and securing the victory. Morgan Geekie ended up scoring with 0.1 seconds left, and while it affected Woll’s save percentage, it won’t change the fact that the Leafs’ season is still alive.


Three stars

First star: Joseph Woll

He was very close to the first shutout of his career in the playoffs, but that does not take away from his performance. Woll didn’t see much action during the first 25 minutes of the game, but he was alert. His saves through traffic were strong, but I was most impressed with how he handled those chaotic moments when he was down but composed, doing everything he could to take as much off Boston’s net as possible.

Second star: William Nylander

The goals were obviously important, but the timing of them was more significant. Fourth-period goals are anchors, and Nylander’s second-period goals probably made a Boston team that wasn’t playing at its best feel even worse. Nylander’s first goal, similar to Jake McCabe’s goal in Game 5, was another example that it’s never a bad idea to shoot a puck on net, as it hit Charlie McAvoy along the way.

His second goal is what we know Nylander for. It was a one-on-one match with Jeremy Swayman and Nylander won.

Third star: Matthew Knies

Knies was going to get a star regardless of whether he got a point or not. The attendance was just a bonus.

The 21-year-old was wherever the puck was, offensively and defensively. You could tell the Bruins had an extra eye on him and were finishing checks on him whenever they could, but Knies handled the physicality well and overcame some of those attempts to slow him down.

Two defensive plays, in the first and third periods, were the most notable. David Pastrnak finished with the puck in the slot in the first period and Knies, in the correct position, deflected it, preventing it from entering the net. Then his backcheck from one end of the ice to the other, to be in position to stop McAvoy, was a well-timed play.


Player Grades

TO

Simon Benoit-Jake McCabe

There’s not much to complain about with these two together, other than a Benoit turnover in the neutral zone in the second half. These two together have been as stable as possible.

joel edmundson

It’s made for a series like this. His timely blocks, especially on the penalty kill, and the way he approaches the opponent on their own end were instrumental in the Leafs getting the puck out quickly.

Unless

Connor Dewar-David Kampf-Calle Jarnkrok

The fourth line did not have many scoring opportunities and totaled three shots. That doesn’t change the fact that they were a strong unit. They spent a lot of time in the offensive zone and kept the puck out of the Bruins’ reach. Those long swings had a lot of momentum, especially that nearly minute swing in the third.

Ilya Liubushkin

There are times where he’s holding on to the puck too long, but he’s still making good decisions with it and his positioning.

Morgan Rielly

He had helpers on both goals and had plenty of ice time late in the third period. There were times when he seemed to have difficulty handling and moving the puck, and a puck hit him in the hand in the first period.

b

Max Domi

He was still a positive contributor at the faceoff point and easily the fastest player on his line. That steal on Brad Marchand from behind the net in the first period was one of Boston’s best opportunities to score early, while Domi’s offensive awareness in the rush created some good opportunities for him and his linemates.

Tyler Bertuzzi

He only recorded one shot on net, but Bertuzzi was around Swayman. Whether it was his stick, his body or his skate, he did whatever it took to maintain possession of the puck in the offensive zone.

Timothy Liljgren

He got the primary assist on Nylander’s first goal and I liked his communication with Rielly on some of Boston’s rushes.

B-minus

Ponto Holmberg

Like Knies, Holmberg is shifting gears when it comes to his physical game.

Mitch Marner

He led all Leafs forwards in ice time and created some rebound opportunities for Bertuzzi. He didn’t have many opportunities to make skill plays and that may be a benefit in the future. Keeping it simple is the way to go in this series.

C-plus

Noah Gregory

I’m not sure if anyone had Gregor make his playoff debut in Game 6, but he definitely did well. He was looking forward to seeing his speed and physicality in the regular season in the postseason, and he made the most of his opportunity with six hits.

Nick Robertson

I thought his shot in the first period might have caught Swayman off guard. His second shot was the only significant danger the Leafs created on the power play, while their best chance of the game led to nothing as he fanned himself on the final shot. But he got into the corners and initiated contact, which is a plus.


Final grade: A

It was another close game in which the Leafs didn’t give the Bruins much to work with. When Boston pressed, the Leafs pushed back and retained control. The commitment to blocking shots in the first period, from both forwards and defenders, was huge, although it didn’t give Woll much to work with. It’s another game where the Leafs scored just two goals, and the power play doesn’t seem to be any better, but you love the execution and the result.


What’s next for the Leafs?

Game 7. Saturday night, 8 pm Hockey Night in Canada. It’s a chance for the Leafs to exorcise their demons against a Boston team that needs redemption after a 3-1 series collapse a year ago.

(Photo: Mark Blinch / NHLI via Getty Images)