This was an opportunity for the Maple Leafs to close the gap in the race for home-ice advantage in the division. They came into the game running hot, winning nine of their last 10.

The Bruins entered the contest after a recent 5-1 shellacking by the Islanders, dropping them to 4-4-5 in their last 13. They were hungry and detailed as a result. The Leafs didn’t even come close to matching their intensity and got the result they deserved.

Your game in 10:

1.    It was an up-and-down start for the Leafs in the first five or so minutes. On the very first shift of the game, Pavel Zacha broke in on a breakaway right through the heart of the neutral zone on a David Pastrnak pass. Timothy Liljegren and TJ Brodie both pulled outside the faceoff dots instead of protecting the middle lane, but Joseph Woll made a big save.

From there, the Leafs started to build a few good shifts. Tyler Bertuzzi created a neutral-zone turnover and fired a decent shot off the rush. The fourth line generated a good forecheck shift. It was followed by a dominant Auston Matthews line shift that resulted in a Matthews shot from the slot where Jake McCabe just missed the rebound (it was an empty net if he got a stick on it).

After a bad first shift, the Leafs seemed to settle down, and they then drew the game’s first penalty. Things were in a good spot… And then the power play happened.

The Leafs were 0/5 over their past three games entering this matchup, which in and of itself is not a huge deal; cold spurts are going to happen. What can’t happen is continually getting outworked by the PK units and bleeding grade-A chances against as a result.

Against the Coyotes, they gave up a shorthanded goal for Alex Kerfoot. In the next game, there was a 4v2 chance off the rush for the Rangers, and on their first power play tonight, they were outworked yet again, resulting in a post for the Bruins followed by a Jake DeBrusk one-timer in the slot.

Frankly, only getting outscored 1-0 while on the power play over the past four games flattered the Leafs overall. They escaped their own power play without giving up a goal, but the 0-0 tie didn’t last long.

2.   The Bruins got some real life from that penalty kill and carried it over to five-on-five.

When Jim Montgomery sent the Pastrnak line out in short order for a mismatch against the Leafs’ fourth line, Ryan Reaves blocked a Pastrnak shot that caused him to fling off his glove in pain and head to the bench as the puck left the zone. The Bruins quickly regrouped, but the Leafs were a little discombobulated after the quick change.

When Bruins entered the zone and the puck went cross-ice from the left side to the right side, Pastrnak picked up the puck, and Morgan Rielly — on the far side — followed JVR to the front of the net rather than passing him off to Ilya Lyubushkin, who remained on his side as he should. Because Rielly followed JVR all the way across, it opened up the backdoor lane for Geekie to head to the net untouched for an easy finish on a backdoor play.

It’s not on the winger to cover a forward at the backdoor. There was so much talk about reintegrating Rielly after his suspension, and while the team kept the momentum rolling from a winning perspective, Rielly simply hasn’t been good since returning. He picked up his first point since returning in their last game against the Rangers (a secondary assist on the Tavares goal that was all thanks to Jarnkrok) and grabbed a point on the lone Leafs goal tonight, but he was crushed in his minutes against Vegas, he got burned by Kerfoot for a shorthanded goal against Arizona, and the power play has generally looked shaky since he returned. Rielly has to get going again here.

3.   A few minutes later, the Bruins went onto a power play of their own and promptly doubled their lead.

The goal itself didn’t have much to it. Pastrnak gained the zone, the Bruins outnumbered Calle Jarnkrok and won the battle on the wall against him, and Simon Benoit was slow to join, seemingly hesitant to join the battle while shorthanded. The whole time, Nylander crept in lower and lower in the zone, so when the puck was fished out and went low, he was down at the net instead of covering the high slot — his area on this play with DeBrusk going to the net — leaving Zacha wide open.

I don’t think Woll had much of a chance regardless, but once the puck went to Zacha, Liljegren also stood in front of Woll instead of skating out and closing down the shooting angle.

Halfway through the period, the Leafs went to a power play and did nothing with it besides cough up scoring chances against. The Bruins built momentum off of it and then scored right after. They then got a power play of their own and scored on it. Special teams swung this game all night.

4.   Down 2-0, the Leafs started mounting a pushback and generated a number of chances to make it a 2-1 game going into the second period, but they couldn’t bury. The Bruins have arguably the best goalie tandem in the league and are sixth in the league in goals against per game, which — to point out the obvious — is why a team can’t spot them a 2-0 lead after getting outworked on its own power play at home (resulting in the Bruins tilting the ice on them for a quarter of the period).

Max Domi ripped a good one-timer in the slot due to a William Nylander end-to-end rush, a Simon Benoit shot deflected off Pontus Holmberg in front then hit the post, and Jake McCabe went deep in the zone and got off a good shot followed by a Calle Jarnkrok chance on the rebound.

The Leafs’ pressure drew a power play, and while they pulled the goalie for the extra attacker on the delayed penalty, the referee messed up and blew the whistle even though the Bruins never touched the puck. It robbed the Leafs of a 6v5 setup, which at this point might be preferable to their 5v4 power-play setup. They created a chance following the faceoff, but they didn’t bury it.

To start the second period, the lackluster play carried over as the top unit was barely able to enter the zone.

5.  Five minutes into the period, the Bruins added another goal to stretch their lead to three. The original sequence started well for the Leafs; they moved the puck up ice and Auston Matthews, fresh on the ice from a change, found Bobby McMann on the far side for a chance where he was able to walk in alone (Swayman made a nice save).

The puck rimmed around and on the chip up the wall, Auston Matthews had a decision to make. He could skate back and play it safe, ensuring the Bruins don’t create a full 3v2 down the ice, or he could try to make a play on the puck. If he turned it the other way, the Leafs would’ve had a 3v2 down low with a chance to cut it to 2-1.

Matthews, of course, elected to try to play the puck, but he couldn’t get it and the Bruins went down on a 3v2 that Matthews couldn’t catch up to on the backcheck. That is the risk/reward nature of the way the Leafs play as the highest-scoring team in the league, but a good defensive team such as the Bruins simply waits for mistakes and pounces on the counterattack.

This was similar to the goal the Leafs gave up against the Rangers last game, where Knies tried to step up on the play and the other team went down the ice on a full ice 3v2 against the Leafs in Toronto in the second period.

We could quibble with how the Leafs defended the 3v2, but the reality is that a well-executed 3v2 with NHLers on the ice is going to result in a high-quality chance. Marchand drove the middle lane, Coyle saucered a nice pass on the tape to DeBrusk on the far side, and DeBrusk took a few steps in, curled in a shot, and ripped it into the far corner off the bar and in.

6.   There were opportunities for the Leafs to claw back in the game through the rest of the second period, but they didn’t seize them. Namely, Auston Matthews had a little play in front where he stepped around Swayman’s pad and tried to tuck the puck in behind him, but he couldn’t get all of it and Brandon Carlo was able to sweep it off the goal line.

The Leafs went to another power play and eventually moved John Tavares back to the top unit — where he immediately rushed a shot high and wide from the top of the circle — and Matthews had a one-timer attempt knuckle on him. They also had a chance where the puck squeaked through Swayman, but there was an early whistle (again!), marking two delayed penalties blown down early as well as one on a loose puck in the crease. But this result wasn’t on the officials.

7.   The first few shifts of the third period were a bit sleepy, but the Leafs’ third line with Tavares came out and generated a workmanlike shift that sparked some life. After Bobby McMann tried a wrap-around play following some good board work, the line hemmed in the Bruins for an extended shift.

When the Bruins eventually chipped it out and were only able to get it out to center, Ilya Lyubushkin recognized the situation. Boston tried for a quick change, so Lyubushkin quickly moved it up the ice as the Leafs’ forwards and Morgan Rielly tagged up quickly. After Lyubushkin hit Rielly with a pass in the middle of the ice, Rielly gained the zone and passed it off to Tavares, who walked in and wound up a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

Swayman was excellent to this point in the game, so you might not have thought this would amount to much, but Tavares’ release really fooled him. The shot was ripped high over the shoulder to make it 3-1.

The Leafs’ new third line has shown some real promise in their two games together. Their work rate on the walls is creating extended o-zone shifts and offensive opportunities.

8.   After Keefe immediately sent out the top line following the goal, they almost made it 3-2 right away on a quick give-and-go play between Matthew Knies and Mitch Marner that just missed. There was some life in the building and a little energy for the Leafs, but the push also meant they were giving up chances the other way.

JVR went on a breakaway attempt that Joseph Woll stood tall on, and the Bruins generated a flurry of chances that resulted in Pastrnak all alone in front against Woll. The Leafs goaltender was able to challenge Pastrnak and close it off.

Knies went on a chance on the rush the other way, but the Leafs, despite being down two, were not exactly tilting the ice or sustaining pressure. Eventually, the Bruins scored the additional insurance goal.

Pastrnak again gained the zone and beat Brodie wide before centering a pass to the far post from behind the net. Timothy Liljegren seemed completely unaware the puck might be coming his way, and he did not tie up Zacha behind him. The puck went off Liljegren’s skate and to Zacha, who jammed it home.

9.   At 4-1 and staring down a third loss of the season (one in a shootout and one in overtime, to be fair) to a division rival in the final half of the period at home, the Leafs lied down and took it. At one point, the Bruins spent nearly two minutes in the Leafs’ zone and actually executed the rare offensive-zone line change while on a long shift.

It was really poor, and the home fans were right to boo the effort. You’re going to lose games over an 82-game season — it is the nature of the beast — and the team has been in great recent form (nine wins in 10 games). They were also playing a rare Monday game (the Leafs rarely play those) following a big win on Saturday night, but they largely left Woll out to dry and did not engage physically at all. It was tough to watch all around.

10.  There are two main takeaways from this game.

We have talked about the poor special teams already; the Leafs went 0/4 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/2 (and Zacha missed a cross-ice one-timer while looking at an empty net on the unconverted man advantage). The odds of playing a really good hockey team and outscoring both a terrible power-play effort and a terrible shorthanded effort are really low. In both instances, it felt like the Bruins had the proper pre-scout and the Leafs were not even remotely ready. Boston jammed the Leafs on entries with regularity, and their power play found all sorts of seams.

The second takeaway is that David Pastrnak was the best player on the ice. It was not even close. He was miles better than any Leaf, including Matthews, Marner, and Nylander. At the end of the day, the Leafs are still a top-heavy team that relies on their stars to drive them. They can’t have all three of their elite forwards massively outplayed by the Bruins’ one megastar. Pastrnak collected three points on the night. None of the Leafs stars registered a point.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Joe Bowen & Jim Ralph Game Highlights