Toronto Maple Leafs fans waited nearly a decade for playoff hockey to return. Now they will get at least one more game after the Maple Leafs defeated the Boston Bruins on Friday to force a sixth game.
Toronto claimed Game 5 on Friday night by a 2-1 margin, getting a shorthanded goal from Tyler Bozak and another goal from Clarke MacArthur. James Reimer came up big in the net for Toronto, stopping 43 shots to allow his team to stay alive in the playoffs.
Though the Maple Leafs now get to go home for Game 6 on Sunday, forcing a decisive seventh game in Boston won’t be an easy task. The Bruins have already won twice in Toronto during the series, and actually haven’t lost a playoff game in Toronto since 1959.
The Boston Bruins are trying to avoid another playoff collapse. In the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals the team blew a 3-0 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are just trying to hang on to play another day.
“We came in with the mindset to just get it back to Toronto to give ourselves a chance. We’ve done that,” MacArthur said. “We want to keep going. We’ve worked hard all year and I can see it starting to pay off.”
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle knows his team has a big task ahead.
“I’m sure that we’ve poked the Bruins,” Carlyle said. “They’re going to be a very desperate team come Sunday night, and we have to be equally desperate.”
Some of that desperation was on display Friday. After falling down 2-0, the Bruins outshot the Leafs 32-8 in the second and third periods.
“The third period was more like our team,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “If there’s anything you need to understand from this, it’s that we’ve got to play three periods like we did in the third if we’re going to close this off.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs had been out of the playoffs since 2004, which was the longest active drought in the NHL.