Preview: Maple Leafs at Bruins
The Toronto Maple Leafs were foiled in their bid to take control of their Eastern Conference first-round series, although whether it was the Boston Bruins' doing or the effects of the dreaded "Drake Curse" is open for debate on social media. The Maple Leafs aim to change the narrative on the first topic Friday when they play Game 5 in Boston.
While it's not public knowledge if the Canadian rapper will be cheering on his hometown Maple Leafs in Boston, Toronto coach Mike Babcock knows his team must perform better on the penalty kill if it wishes to emerge victorious in what has now become a best-of-three series. "The bottom line is you can't keep giving power-play goals up, those are just freebies those two," Babcock said following Wednesday's 6-4 setback. "In the end, you've got to do what you're supposed to do and if their scheme is better, their player executes, then so be it. But, you've got to do what you're supposed to." Boston improved to a staggering 5-for-11 on the power play after Brad Marchand set up David Pastrnak's goal early in the second period to give the club a 4-2 lead. "Those guys were dialed in. They're pros. They're top-end players. They're Stanley Cup champions. So those are not guys you worry about very often," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of Marchand and Pastrnak.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS (Toronto), NESN (Boston)
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS: Auston Matthews capped his two-goal performance by converting on the power play Wednesday, giving the 21-year-old his first career multi-goal performance in the playoffs and second straight multi-point effort in the series. Fellow forward John Tavares, who has a club high-tying three assists in this series, expressed confidence in his teammates heading into the best-of-three scenario. "We feel great about our team and our game. Obviously, you always want to clean things up and be better," the 28-year-old Tavares said. "... These games, this time of year it’s very small differences so just stay with it and build off the good things. Just be ready to bounce back."
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Marchand continues to torment Toronto in 2018-19, as the pesky forward followed up his seven-assist performance in the regular season by doubling his team-leading series point total after he scored a goal and set up two others on Wednesday. Four-time Selke Trophy recipient Patrice Bergeron, who was named as a finalist for the eighth straight year, set up a goal in Game 4 and tallied in each home contest of the series. Danton Heinen had an assist on Wednesday to extend his point streak to three games after notching just one point in his previous seven.
1. Boston C Charlie Coyle has recorded a point in three straight games (two goals, one assist) after posting just one in his previous six.
2. Maple Leafs C Mitch Marner recorded an assist on Matthews' power-play goal in the third period on Wednesday, giving him four points in the series and 13 (four goals, nine assists) in 11 career playoff games against the Bruins.
3. Boston fourth-line C Sean Kuraly, who has been sidelined since March with a broken hand, will be a game-time decision on Friday.
PREDICTION: Bruins 5, Maple Leafs 3