The Maple Leafs stealing home-ice advantage was short-lived.

Despite finally scoring first against Boston, the Leafs‘ special-teams struggles are starting to prove too difficult to overcome. Toronto once again allowed a power-play goal—they have done so in every game so far this series—and this time, it came on just 1.5 attempts (the Bruins scored an empty net on the power-play goal to technically finish at 2/3).

Potentially even more troublesome, the Leafs went 0/5 on the power play. It is exhausting to be this bad on special teams at both ends of the ice. It’s almost impossible to overcome such a deficit against a quality opponent like the Bruins.

The refs will get a lot of attention after this game—and they were bad, to be clear—but the Leafs were at home with a 5-2 power-play advantage before the very end of the game. The Bruins are 5/10 on the PP so far, and the Leafs are 1/11 in this series. In a nutshell, that’s the reason this series is currently 2-1 Boston.

Your game in 10:

1.   Fresh off defeat, the Bruins changed three lines and two defense pairings to start Game 3. They moved Jake DeBrusk up to the top line that wasn’t nearly dangerous enough, moved Morgan Geekie up to their matchup line with Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle, inserted JVR into their third line for some extra offense, and moved Danton Heinen down. On defense, Mason Lohrei entered the lineup on Charlie McAvoy’s pairing, and Parker Wotherspoon pushed Kevin Shattenkirk back to the right side. The Leafs decidedly generally carried play through the first two games at five-on-five, and you could see there was real urgency within the Bruins to start reversing the trend.

We didn’t really get to see the impact of those matchups through the first period, though. On the very first shift, Simon Benoit took a really bad delay-of-game penalty even though he had time and space with the puck. This was Benoit’s first home playoff game, so perhaps some early nerves got to him.

In any event, the Leafs were immediately on their heels, but the PK stood tall. Ilya Samsonov was excellent on the kill, the Leafs cleared the crease well, and Matthew Knies made a great play in the neutral zone to kill off the last attempt for the power play.

Once it returned to 5v5, the Leafs started tilting the ice — as they have been to this point in this series — as the matchups and lines started playing out. After some offensive-zone time, the Bruins took a dumb penalty off the puck, sending the Leafs to an early PP.

They created a few good chances — namely, John Tavares in front and, towards the end, Calle Jarnkrok in front (Max Domi was really late to pass the puck here; they really should have gotten more out of this). The Leafs generated a few good chances, but on the flip side, they gave up a breakaway to Pavel Zacha after Mitch Marner misread the puck  (Samsonov stood tall).

2.   After the early exchange of power plays, the 5v5 game started to settle in. It was evident that the Bruins were really focused on getting Pastrnak extra shifts; he would slide out with their third and fourth liners to create mismatches. On one shift, Joel Edmundson saved a Pastrnak goal after McAvoy made a good play down the wall and the puck found Pastrnak at the far side with an empty net. Edmundson read it, using all of his 6’5 frame to go down to his knees and block the net.

Shortly afterward, the Leafs created another good opportunity to strike first as Ilya Lyubushkin drew a penalty on Zacha, one of the Bruins’ regular penalty killers. On their first power play, the Leafs generated chances, but this one created nothing—not even a shot on goal. Tyler Bertuzzi twice gave the puck away, leading to clears that really killed the momentum.

Later in the period, the Leafs forced a turnover off the forecheck, and David Kampf had the puck with Connor Dewar wide open in front; for some reason, he didn’t pass and actively turned away from the net to attempt a pass up to the point. Soon after, Tavares ripped one off the crossbar following a good Matthew Knies forecheck.

Max Domi also had a chance where he walked out in front from behind the net all alone after a Bertuzzi hit on the forecheck. It was an empty net if he tucked it right away, but he took too long. Toronto also went on a 4v2 rush where Matthews flipped Domi the puck and drove the net; Domi clearly wanted to pass, eventually realized he couldn’t, and shot it right in the middle of the goalie’s crest. Domi is an excellent passer, but he needs to look to shoot more.

3.   The start of the second period was a slow one save for one Matthews 2v1 with Domi where McAvoy took the pass away, so Matthews kept and ripped one off the post. Other than the Matthews scoring chance, there was nothing happening in the first half of the period.

The Bruins closed the neutral zone right up, looking very much like a road team determined to grind this game right down to chalk dust. Five Bruins were packed in tight at all times, and they were visibly less aggressive pressuring the Leafs defense in neutral zone breakouts. In the first game, especially, Boston sent two forecheckers and showed them about zero respect, but the Leafs adjusted with more quick ups, looking to get pucks up to their forwards to do the work. The Bruins responded by clogging up the neutral zone more, and the Leafs somewhat took the bait by trying to constantly skate through it with possession instead of winding up with speed, dumping the puck in, and going to get it back.

It was really low-event hockey, which is exactly what the Bruins wanted. And then, off of what was really a nothing play, the refs called a really soft hooking call on Pastrnak against Jarnkrok.

4.    On the subsequent power play, the Leafs created one good look — a Matthews chance in the slot after they won some battles on the other side of the ice to come out with a mini 2v1. The puck was behind Matthews, so he had to sort of catch and sling-shot it, and he just missed. That was all the Leafs created, though, marking another power play they largely wasted.  At this point, we’re not even talking about scoring; we’re talking about simply sustaining pressure and creating multiple looks. The Leafs’ power play isn’t even close.

After the man advantage, though, the game started to open up at 5v5. Dewar had a great chance off a one-timer where he was in the slot all alone. Robertson had Jarnkrok all alone, but they didn’t connect on the pass for what should have been a breakaway. Samsonov made a good save on Maroon, who had time and space in the slot.

Throughout the game to this point, Keefe was visibly trying to get Mitch Marner going. He played more than any Leafs forward through two periods. Twice in that run of chances, the Leafs put Marner out with Matthews and Domi for an offensive-zone faceoff (instead of keeping Bertuzzi there, who has been really good, and so has the overall line). Twice, the Bruins went down the ice and dominated the shift.

Those are little games within the game, but they break up the flow of the overall group and leave mismatches for other lines through the domino effect of shifting players around. It’s the kind of overthinking the Leafs coaching staff has done at home all season.

5.  Lo and behold, the Leafs did score first, and it was set up by Marner, who created the goal with his normal linemates. Tavares made a nice read in the neutral zone to zip a pass far side to Joel Edmundson, who joined the rush to give the Leafs a 3v2.

Edmundson is by no means an offensive player, but he is not shy about joining the attack and going to the right spots offensively. He doesn’t hang back defensively nearly as much as his reputation suggests. He made a nice play to drop the puck to Marner, who did what he does with time and space (create). Matthew Knies was really good on the goal/finish, driving the net hard with a firm bottom hand on his stick to deflect the puck into the net.

Marner made an excellent play to buy him time before ripping a far-side backdoor pass over for the goal. That’s a bit of weight off Marner’s shoulders; he has taken quite a bit of heat in the market so far, and we could see this primary assist go to his legs and confidence for the next few shifts.

6.   After the 1-0 Toronto goal, chaos broke out. JVR had a breakaway right after, trying his forehand, backhand, and five-hole move. Ilya Samsonov tracked it the whole way and then stood tall on a scramble in front afterward. On a 3v2, Pontus Holmberg had some space to bring it in himself but tried to pass it over to Ryan Reaves (I wish he shot it; he has a good in-tight move where he elevates the puck). Knies then made a great play, rounding the net and finding Marner in the slot. Swayman was caught out of the net, but Marner couldn’t get it through the bodies, and the puck was actually inadvertently saved by Tavares.

The action was fast and furious, and then Bertuzzi and Marchand renewed their rivalry, engaging with each other far away from the puck, culminating in Marchand taking his feet out. At a minimum, it is a penalty. The refs could even take both if they want. No call was hard to fathom.

Amid all the commotion, the Bruins went down the ice, where Trent Frederic scored on a really weak short-side shot. It’s a really bad goal on Samsonov, who was otherwise excellent to this point in the game. He stopped multiple breakaways and buckled down in the slot multiple times, but this was a really bad goal to give up.

7.   Shortly afterward, the Leafs received a makeup call. They won the faceoff, and the puck went to Marner, who was pressured and gave it away. The Bruins went down the ice, Coyle outmuscled Tavares to create space, and they generated a 2v1 that Samsonov saved. As the play came around the wall, Bertuzzi took a run at Coyle and got his stick up.

The next part is maybe the most underrated part of the game: The Leafs backed off with the delayed penalty, and the Bruins were simply allowed to kill the clock. It was so early in the power play for the Leafs that if they got the puck back right away, the Bruins would have had a very short power play at best. It would have been inconsequential. Instead, the Leafs allowed them to kill nearly a minute off the clock, which meant that when the third period started, the Bruins went to a lengthy power play.

I think everybody knows about the Leafs’ penalty kill at this point. When the Bruins went to their power play, they scored. On the goal itself, Pastrnak and Edmundson engaged in a battle on the wall, and the Bruins swarmed with numbers, helping to dig the puck out, while Marner stood beside the battle and McCabe drifted over but didn’t actually get involved.

When the Bruins fished the puck out, it was over. The Leafs had three PKers out of position, giving the Bruins a mini-2v1. Marchand took the first shot, and Samsonov couldn’t swallow the puck. The rebound bounced right to DeBrusk, who put it home.

8.   The Leafs started pushing to tie the game and went to a power-play opportunity, where Bertuzzi had a couple of glorious chances on the power play to tie it but couldn’t bang it home twice in front. He has to elevate the puck on those opportunities.

The Leafs persisted after the power play and tied the game at 5v5. On an extended shift for the Matthews line, Bertuzzi won the puck below the goal line, passed it to Domi on the half-wall, and Domi tried feathering a pass to the back side to Morgan Rielly. The initial pass didn’t connect cleanly, but Rielly waited for a second for Bertuzzi to drive the net — which Bertuzzi did — and Rielly tried shooting for deflection, which was a smart play. The puck took a double deflection off Lindholm and Bertuzzi and found the back of the net.

The Leafs need more of this kind of goal against Swayman: throw a puck to the net and crash the crease hard. They are clearly not going to beat him cleanly very often.

9.   The tie game was short-lived. It actually looked like the Leafs might take the lead — Swayman misplayed it behind the Bruins net, and Domi had a chance but couldn’t break through the checking to properly put it home. The Bruins went the other way, and on what should have been an innocent play, the Leafs botched it.

The first mistake is Liljegren’s on the puck retrieval. He leaned down and tried to absorb contact instead of making a real play on the puck. Even a hard rim at that point would have been fine, but he was weak on the puck, which kept it below the Leafs’ goal line. Matthews swung in for it and knocked Samsonov’s stick out of his hands, then failed to win the battle. Edmundson joined the battle, but both Leafs lost it — a 1v2 battle below the goal line, and the Leafs lost it.

Heinen passed it out in front to Marchand, who — credit where it is due — ripped a great shot. The story for the Leafs was the two lost battles in their end. The Bruins made them pay both times.

10.   The Leafs did make a late push. Their best shift came from the third line; after Nick Robertson‘s good chance off the rush, they controlled possession down low. Calle Jarnkrok tried ripping a few pucks through the crease, and Pontus Holmberg won a few battles down low to keep pucks alive. They allowed the Leafs to make an offensive zone change from the far side bench to sustain the pressure.

Eventually, the Leafs pulled the goalie, with Marner up top and Rielly on defense at 6-on-5. In the zone, the puck broke free from the corner, and while Tavares was getting his stick held, he took down McAvoy; naturally, only one of them was penalized. It was all but game over from there, and Marchand eventually got the empty netter. It was a really poor call.

This brings the Leafs’ home losing streak to five games in a row. It’s unacceptable to be this bad in the playoffs on home ice, where they were mediocre all season long. As usual, the matchups were chased instead of rolling the lines—the latter was a successful formula on the road. The roadmap was right there.

Half the Leafs’ forward group played under 12:46 in this game. In Game 2, only four forwards played less than this number. Instead — as is usually the case — the Leafs were chasing matchups, looking to load up Marner as much as possible (which didn’t even come close to working at any point). Their fourth line, which was so good the first two games, was an afterthought in this one from the very start. This was their worst game territorially of the series by far. At some point, I’m not sure when Sheldon Keefe will learn this lesson.

The Leafs need to defend home ice to go anywhere in the playoffs, but more often than not, they’re making it easy on visiting opponents. This Bruins team does not have strong depth, and loading up plays right into their hands. Related: make it eight of their last nine playoff games where the Leafs scored two or fewer goals.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts