Three down, one to go.

Your game in ten:

1. Having reached the point in the series where both teams are now totally dialed into their own game/structure and the other team’s tendencies, this was the kind of game the Leafs needed to prove they could win in this series — a 0-0 battle that stayed that way into the third period and was played with absolutely no space available.

They possessed the puck over 60% in the first two periods but came away with nothing to show for it. They had to kill three penalties (and were given none themselves) in the first 40 minutes despite winning that possession battle decisively (one horrible tripping call on Hyman, automatic delay-of-game call on Marner, and a deserved hook-on-the hands call on Marleau). It had something of a coming-of-age feel to it watching them work their way through this game, stay patient with it, and find a way to win a massive playoff game on the road.

2. After getting in their own way by and large in Game 4, the Leafs were back to playing fast and playing smart — making safe plays in behind the Bruins all night with intelligent chip and chasing, executing plenty of shorter breakouts, knowing when to live to fight another day with an off-the-glass play, and generally just managing the puck and game really well.

Without the puck, they put honey on the neutral zone with clever picks, rub-outs, and subtle interference plays and defended well in five-man units with good gaps and good sticks throughout the night. When they’re playing that tight, it’s the fuel that feeds their transition game.

3. We only really saw the Leafs play this kind of dialed-in hockey on a remotely consistent basis for about two weeks in November. It’s remarkable how the Leafs have just flipped the switch here at playoff time, but it’s a testament to the maturation of the young core, the coaching staff’s work, the health of the team coming together at the right time (relatively speaking), the buy-in from the players, and exactly the right kind of trade addition to the blue line in Jake Muzzin. Not to get too far ahead of oneself knowing the put-away game — especially against a good, experienced team — is always the hardest, but the Leafs have put themselves in the driver’s seat now and for me have clearly been the better team at 5v5 in four of the five games.

4. Was pretty surprised by the amount of consensus on the goaltending interference “missed” call from the various commentators on the different broadcasting feeds. I don’t think Hyman’s contact substantially changed Rask’s positioning or his ability to get across on the play, and the slight glance took place out just outside the crease line. The point about the lack of consistency on these calls all year is clearly a valid one, though.

5.  Another sign of the team’s maturation — in addition to the steady, quiet start to the game in which they gave up just one shot in nine minutes on the road — was how they handled going up 1-0 as the Bruins dialed up the pressure. The Leafs, as much as they had an uneven regular season, have been a consistently great team in possession of the lead because they’re so effective counter-punching as teams start to gamble against them. But this was a different type of composure shown here.

The Kasperi Kapanen goal starts with a lost defensive-zone face-off by Matthews and the Leafs, but the Leafs did not run around on the shift. Matthews closed down and helped force the puck to the wall, and when Hainsey recovered the puck at the other side, Matthews came across and was five feet away for the little bump pass off the boards. Morgan Rielly immediately identified the chance to take off as the Bruins were caught with three in deep, and a few passes later it was in the back of the net off the stick of Kapanen.

It was a textbook counterpunch. Rielly did something clever there to finish the rush off by dragging a Bruin with him, too, which caused the hesitation about who to pick up.

6. Speaking of the team’s start, I thought it was notable that the last time the Bruins started line four against the Toronto top line in Game 2, Babcock had them scramble off the ice chasing the right matchup. It wasn’t the reason the Leafs started poorly in that game, but I don’t think it helped. This time, he just let it roll.

Babcock, in fact, did not chase that matchup too hard throughout the night. He seems reasonably confident in how both of his top lines are playing over 200 feet and so long as he can get one of the Tavares line or the Muzzin pairing out against the Bergeron line on the road, he was pretty comfortable with it.

7.  Indeed, Auston Matthews rewarded that faith from Babcock with an amazing game. He split his time between the two top lines pretty evenly but actually saw Marchand and Bergeron the most of any two Bruins forwards. In those six 5v5 minutes, his line was over 80% CF.

After the way Matthews was battling, grinding (some nice battles with Chara), and supporting the defense both tracking back and providing a close-support outlet through the middle on the breakout, his breakthrough goal was a just reward for a night of doing everything right away from the puck. It felt like a superstar coming-of-age game for a player who faced a ton of criticism for how he performed in this building the previous Spring.

(And it has to be mentioned how Tavares neutralizing Bergeron by mostly playing him to saw-offs in that matchup has allowed Matthews to gain a foothold in the series. He’s rolling now).

8.  Also deserving of full marks is the effort of Zach Hyman in this game. He took another hard spill into the boards and he’s clearly not 100%, but he never missed a shift and continued winning key battle after key battle for the team both at 5v5 and on the penalty kill. He was executing the chip and chase in behind the Bruins defense effectively throughout the night, and his strength on the puck to hold his ground and stay upright set the stage for that Matthews goal. Of course, he went straight to the net parked himself right on top of Rask afterward. He’s also made it clear to Chara throughout this series that he is not backing down one bit; he’s going to keep coming and coming. He’s been absolutely relentless from Game 1 onward.

He also rocked Backes pretty good here:

9.  Jake Gardiner’s 12:31 of ice time was the lowest of the series (and playoff career); he skated away from a hit along the end boards so gingerly at one point I thought the shift might be his last. Again, it speaks to how massive the Muzzin addition has been. He still has something to offer at the offensive blue line, and in lieu of his usual agility and evasiveness against forecheckers, he’s been pretty clever and adaptive with how he’s avoided/spun off checks and moved the puck fast; he finished the night with a 66% CF. That said, he threw a pizza right up the middle of the defensive zone at one point tonight as well. He’s getting by, but it’s hard to watch a guy battle pain like that and it’s not the type of injury that is going to get better by playing more playoff hockey games, that’s for sure. Kudos to him for gutting it out.

10.  Notable how Frederik Andersen didn’t need to be one of the Leafs best players in this game; he just needed to be solid. The Bruins generated just 18 shots on goal at 5v5 and five high-danger chances. They’re running out of answers, and the fact that the Leafs won a game without Andersen as one of their best players — I’d put Matthews, Hyman, and Muzzin ahead in the three stars — is a very encouraging sign as to the direction the Leafs’ team defense is trending.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins, Game 5

Game Highlights