Advertisement

Game 2 takeaways: Matthews shines, Leafs beat Bruins to even series

Game 2 takeaways: Matthews shines, Leafs beat Bruins to even series originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON -- The drought is over for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They've finally won in Boston.

The first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series between these Original Six rivals is now even at a game apiece after the Leafs earned a 3-2 victory in Monday night's Game 2 at TD Garden.

The Leafs had lost eight consecutive games to the Bruins and hadn't won in this building since March 29, 2022. But Toronto showed impressive resilience, overcoming 1-0 and 2-1 deficits en route to a much-needed win.

The Bruins opened the scoring at 10:18 of the first period when Morgan Geekie cashed in on the power play. The Leafs tied the score just 14 seconds later when Max Domi beat Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark in front of the net. The Bruins went ahead 2-1 late in the first period on a David Pastrnak goal. But the Leafs didn't go away. John Tavares scored Toronto's first power-play goal of the series in the second period to even the score at two.

Auston Matthews gave the Leafs their first lead over the Bruins all season when he beat Ullmark on a breakaway at 12:06 of the third period.

Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov played much better in Game 2 than he did in the series opener. He made 27 saves. Ullmak made his series debut for Boston and had 30 saves.

The Leafs have taken the home-ice advantage with the series now shifting to Toronto for Game 3 at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night. But before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Bruins-Leafs Game 2.

Leafs stars finally show up

The Leafs' superstar forwards -- Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner -- were all held off the scoresheet in Game 1. They played much better in Game 2.

Tavares scored on the power play with a turnaround shot with 1:34 left in the second period.

Matthews hadn't scored a goal in six consecutive playoff games, but he finally broke through in the third period by capitalizing on a breakaway scoring opportunity.

Matthews made an impact in several other areas, too. He tallied eight shots on net, six hits and went 16-of-23 in the faceoff circle. The Leafs had a 13-4 edge in scoring chances during Matthews' 17:01 of 5-on-5 ice time. He also picked up assists on the other two Leafs goals for a three-point game.

Marner still hasn't tallied a point in this series, and William Nylander -- who scored 40 goals in the regular season -- has yet to play in this series due to an undisclosed injury. But the efforts from Tavares and Matthews were a huge step forward for the Maple Leafs. They need these $10-11 million stars to show up consistently to beat the Bruins three more times.

Special teams again plays huge factor

The Bruins' power play struggles to end the regular season were well-documented. They ranked 30th out of 32 teams with a 10.5 percent success rate over the last two weeks.

But the power play has been better in this series.

After scoring twice with the man advantage in Game 1, the Bruins opened the scoring in the first period of Game 2 when Morgan Geekie was credited with his third career postseason goal.

The Bruins were on the power play because Leafs defenseman Jake McCabe cross-checked Jakub Lauko after the whistle in another display of undisciplined play by Toronto.

Boston's power play has scored three times in this series and six times overall against the Leafs if you include the four meetings in the regular season.

The Leafs' power play also played a factor in this game. They finally got on the board with the man advantage when John Tavares scored his first goal in his last seven playoff games. The Bruins took five penalties overall, including two too-many-men penalties that could have easily been avoided.

Toronto had the No. 7 ranked power play during the regular season, and both of its units are full of high-end offensive talent. The Bruins cannot afford to take so many bad penalties and put that star-studded group on the ice together.

The Leafs' much-maligned penalty kill has played poorly in this series, but it did come up with a huge kill with six minutes left in the third period.

Ullmark 'terrific' despite loss

The Bruins kept the goalie rotation going by starting Linus Ullmark in Game 2 despite Jeremy Swayman's excellent performance in the Game 1 victory.

Ullmark's best sequence came during a second-period power play for the Leafs. The Swedish netminder made a couple brilliant saves on Grade A scoring chances for the Leafs, including this shot from Calle Jarnkrok.

He made another great save to get a piece of this shot by Nick Robertson early in the third period.

Ullmark finished with 30 saves on 33 shots against, which was pretty good considering the Leafs generated 37 scoring chances and 14 high-danger chances. Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said in his postgame press conference that Ullmark was "terrific" and that he had no second guesses on the goalie decision.

So, what will the Bruins' plan be in net for Game 3? Will they go back to Swayman? That's what makes the most sense. Swayman has been amazing against the Leafs this season with a 4-0-0 record and a .967 save percentage, including a 35-save victory in Game 1.