Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews said he received a threat call after their victory

Toronto Maple Leafs tie the postseason series in Boston thanks to a late goal from Auston Matthews.

On Monday, April 22, 2024, in Boston, during the third period of Game 2 of the first-round playoff series, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scores a goal past Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark.
The Associated Press/Charles Kruppa
The Maple Leafs and Bruins played the second game in their very private playoff series on Monday.

The lead-up to Toronto’s 3-2 victory against the Murphys, which tied the series at one game apiece, was, to put it mildly, entertaining. It was like watching hockey’s version of Stratego.

For several days, the Maple Leafs and William Nylander played the game “Where’s Waldo?” Due to an injury that was not reported, the winger was unable to play in Game 1, and details regarding his health have been treated like state secrets.

Nylander joined teammates on the ice on Monday morning after participating in an unexpected optional skate on Sunday afternoon, albeit his options were restricted.

His return is viewed as crucial because he was Toronto’s second-leading scorer during the regular season, finishing with 40 goals and 98 points.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe noted early in the day, “He looks good out there.” “We’ll wait to see how he feels the rest of the day before deciding whether or not to play.”

Jim Montgomery, the head coach of Boston, was vague regarding the starting goalie at the same time. Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have alternated for the Bruins this season, but Swayman has defeated Toronto four times in a row. In Saturday’s 5-1 triumph in Game 1, he turned away 35 of the 36 shots he faced.

In a pepper game with media before the game, Montgomery remarked, “I don’t know why we would divulge information.” “We have a strategy in place, but we won’t discuss it. I won’t tell you since I don’t tell my wife.

Ultimately, Nylander did not play for the Maple Leafs, and the home team’s crease was manned by Ullmark, the 2023 Vezina Trophy winner.

Boston had defeated the Maple Leafs in all eight of their previous meetings before winning the first game. Against its Original Six foe, that was tied for the longest winning streak in a century.

For Toronto, Auston Matthews put on a fantastic display and scored the game-winning goal. In a squad-high 23 minutes and 24 seconds, he also finished with two assists, six hits, and a 16-7 face-off record. With 7:54 left in the game, Toronto took the lead for the first time in its previous six meetings against Boston this season.

“Everything he does is world class,” John Tavares, the captain, said of Matthews. “He certainly led the way. It was a hell of a game by him.”

Toronto was penalized six times in the series opener and did a face-plant at TD Garden. It promised to play more smartly and be more disciplined this time out.

Then Jake McCabe took a cross-checking penalty that led to Morgan Geekie’s power-play goal that put the Bruins up 1-0 with 9:42 left in the first period. Max Domi replied only 14 seconds later for Toronto and it was 1-1.

With eight seconds to go before the first intermission David Pastrnak whistled a puck past Ilya Samsonov and the home team went into the break with a 2-1 lead.

The first period was another slugfest with 37 hits exchanged. At various points Brad Marchand rocked Simon Benoit, Pastrnak knocked down Tavares as the Maple Leafs captain was trying to check him and Trent Frederic sent Benoit flying.

Toronto battled hard to even the score in the second period. Calle Jarnkrok came oh-so-close but a video review showed that Ullmark (barely) kept the puck from crossing the goal line. Matthews then batted one in but that was negated because he hit it with his stick a tad too high.

Tavares finally tied it at 2-2 with a wrist shot from 30 feet out with 1:34 before the second intermission.

The triumph may have saved the Maple Leafs’ season. Teams that fall behind 2-0 in the playoffs go on to lose a best-of-seven series about 85 per cent of the time.

Games 3 and 4 will take place on Wednesday and Saturday at Scotiabank Arena.

“I’m happy to get the win and the split and go home 1-1,” Matthews said.

Matthews gave Toronto the lead on a breakaway. He had eight shots on the evening. He was shut out in Game 1 after scoring an NHL-leading 69 goals during the regular season.

Samsonov, who was 0-4 in previous playoff games against Boston, had 27 saves. At one point this season he was waived and another time he took a mental health break.

“We love him,” Tavares said. “He has battled hard all year. Maybe it was not the way you would draw it up but his ability to stay with it is really impressive.”

Said Keefe: “It was a really good team effort but Ilya is a big part of this one today.”

Ullmark stopped 30 of 33 shots in defeat.

For once, Toronto did what it has seldom been able to do by beating the Bruins. It won puck battles, played tight defence and meted out punishment in kind.

Ryan Reaves had six hits and Matthew Knies and Joel Edmundson had five each. Morgan Rielly blocked four shots.

“Everything about our lineup tonight, from our game, was fantastic,” Keefe remarked.

To win the series, one victory out of four is sufficient. However, it gives the Maple Leafs some momentum as they return home.

“It’s significant whenever you triumph away from home,” Tavares stated. “Yet there is still much to be done.”

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