close
close

DeBrusk scores two power-play goals, Swayman saves 35 as Bruins win 5-1 to open series against Toronto

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins were clinging to a one-goal lead when defenseman Charlie McAvoy took a skate edge and fell while trying to race Toronto’s Auston Matthews for a loose puck.

The Maple Leafs forward – and top scorer in the NHL this season – had no one between him and the goal. Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman came out to try to poke the puck away, but didn’t get there in time. Matthews turned and shot into the open net, close to the near post.

“I think I thought it was 1-1 as soon as he passed Sway,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said after Boston pulled away to beat Toronto 5-1 on Saturday night in the opener of the first round of the playoffs . “We can’t give Matthews these kinds of opportunities. He’s too good a scorer.”

Bruins rookie Jonny Beecher scored on his first postseason shot on goal to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. It was still a one-goal game in the second period when Matthews, who led the NHL with 69 goals this season, caught Swayman but clear of the crease knocked the puck off the goal post.

“I just wanted to see if I could get there before him,” Swayman said. “Glad it didn’t go in.”

A minute after Matthews’ miss, Brandon Carlo made it 2-0, then Jake DeBrusk added a pair of power-play goals to open a 4-0 lead. Trent Frederic added an empty-netter to make it 5-1 with just over two minutes to go.

David Kampf scored for Toronto and Ilya Samsonov stopped 23 shots.

“We had some chances in the second period, really good chances, some of our best chances of the game,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Matthews (had) a chance to even the score. We don’t do that, and… it ends up in our net. Then the penalties pop up, allowing them to pull back into the match.

“You can’t make those mistakes this time of year,” Keefe said. “The team that does that ends up on the wrong side of the game.”

Game 2 is Monday night in Boston before the series shifts to Toronto for Games 3 and 4. If the Bruins follow their pattern of the season, it will be Linus Ullmark in net instead of Swayman.

“It will be difficult to move on from Sway. He had a great game,” Montgomery said. “If we decide to go with Ullmark, we feel comfortable with it, and our team feels comfortable with it as well. It doesn’t affect us in the room, no matter who starts.”

The Maple Leafs are eager to end Canada’s half-century Stanley Cup drought and end Canada’s three-decade slump — or at least build on last year, when they won a play for the first time since 2004 off series won. But to do that, they’ll have to get past an Original Six enemy.

Toronto hasn’t beaten the Bruins in the playoffs in six tries since 1959. Boston also won the regular season series 4-0.

This was more of the same.

Toronto, which scratched No. 2 scorer William Nylander due to an undisclosed injury, tried to set a physical tone even before the opening faceoff, when Max Domi tried to provoke Bruins captain Brad Marchand. It didn’t work: Boston opened a 2-0 lead and then took advantage of the Leafs’ penalties to pull away.

Beecher, who played 17 games in the AHL this season, converted a two-on-one with Jesper Boqvist to give Boston a lead 2:26 into the game.

It stayed that way until about five minutes had passed in the second, when DeBrusk pulled the puck from behind the Toronto net and fed it to Carlo in the slot for the goal. The Leafs were awarded consecutive penalties and the Bruins scored on both before Kampf made it 4-1 and spoiled the shutout early in the third.

AP NHL Playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://apnews.com/hub/nhl