It all comes down to Tuesday.
The Boston Bruins played their best game of the playoffs, skating to a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs in Game 6 of their opening-round playoff series at Scotiabank Arena, with Game 7 set for Boston’s TD Garden on Tuesday.
The Leafs played nervous, spirit-free, mistake-prone hockey for the first two periods, though an early third-period goal from Auston Matthews got the fans on their feet and gave them hope. But Brad Marchand scored the second of his two goals into an empty net to assure the series would go the limit.
Morgan Rielly, with the game’s first goal, John Tavares, with the strongest effort among the forwards, and Frederik Andersen, with big save after big save, were the best Leafs on the ice. But Boston’s best players, well known around these parts — Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Jake DeBrusk, Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara — had better games and were supported by a cast that seemed more up for the big moment.
The Maple Leafs are the last Canadian team alive in the playoffs, with Calgary and Winnipeg knocked out. A Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup since Montreal did it in 1993.
They’ve won twice in Boston so far, Game 1 and Game 5, but haven’t made it past the first round since 2004.
The game turned in the first period, when the Bruins scored twice on the power play.
Rielly put the Leafs up 1-0 with a pinpoint one-timer of a slapshot at 9:42. But Tyler Ennis took a holding call on the next shift and Marchand scored at 11:23, after beating Mitch Marner to a loose puck and using Ron Hainsey as a screen.
The Leafs failed to score on their two power plays that period, and took another penalty: Travis Dermott for tripping. Krug scored from the point and the first period ended with Boston up 2-1 after dominating the play, thanks to getting their legs under them with successful power plays.
That momentum carried into the second as Boston ran up the shot clock and got the only goal of the period, from DeBrusk.
Kevin McGran is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @kevin_mcgran