TORONTO — David Pastrnak scored twice in quick succession, Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists, and the Boston Bruins survived a late Toronto surge to beat the Maple Leafs 6-4 on Wednesday and even their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal at two games apiece.
Charlie McAvoy, with a goal and an assist, Zdeno Chara and Joakim Nordstrom, into an empty net, provided the rest of the offence for Boston, which got 38 stops from Tuukka Rask.
Auston Matthews, with two, Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott replied for Toronto. Frederik Andersen made 25 saves, Morgan Rielly added two assists.
With the victory, the Bruins restored home-ice advantage in the series. Game 5 is set for Friday at Boston’s TD Garden. Game 6 goes Sunday back at Scotiabank Arena.
After the Leafs stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to tie things early in the second period, Pastrnak put Boston back in front at 3:16 when he redirected a pass from Marchand on a 2-on-1 for his first goal of the series.
The Bruins then got a power play when Matthews went off for roughing, and Marchand whipped a backhand pass to a wide-open Pastrnak, who snapped the puck shortside on Andersen for his second goal in 1:35, and Boston’s second with the man advantage.
Coming into these playoffs, Pastrnak had registered 27 points his last 15 games against Toronto, but put up just one assist through the first three contests of the series.
Rask, who didn’t look good on the Leafs’ equalizer earlier in the period, made up for that gaffe with a great toe save on Connor Brown at the lip of the crease.
Matthews hit the post early in the third, but the Bruins put the game out of reach at 5:39 when Chara fired a shot through a terrific Patrice Bergeron screen to make it 5-2. At 42 years, 30 days, Boston’s captain became the second-oldest player in NHL history to score a goal in the playoffs.
Matthews scored on the power play with 8:08 left in regulation on a tap-in off a pass from Mitch Marner as Toronto started to make its push before Dermott made it 5-4 through traffic with 6:33 remaining inside a boisterous Scotiabank Arena.
Marchand hit the post with just over two minutes to go on a shot that would have sealed it, but the Bruins managed to hold on late before Nordstrom scored into an empty net as Boston evened the series.
Down 2-1 after 20 minutes, the Leafs got level just 67 seconds into the middle period when Matthews grabbed a pass in the neutral zone with his glove and fired a shot that squeezed between Rask’s left arm and body for his second in as many games after being held off the scoresheet in Boston.
The Leafs and Bruins traded convincing 4-1 victories in Games 1 and 2 in Boston before the teams played a tight contest Monday that saw Toronto squeeze out a 3-2 victory that was accented by two blocked shots by Marner in the dying seconds.
Marner, Hyman and John Tavares, along with defencemen Jake Muzzin and Nikita Zaitsev, did a good job shutting down the Bruins’ top line of Marchand, Pastrnak and Bergeron — who combined for 30 points in Boston’s seven-game victory over Toronto last spring — through the first nine periods of the series, limiting the trio to just two points at 5 on 5.
That prompted head coach Bruce Cassidy to split up his dynamic trio, promoting Danton Heinen from the third unit and bumping Pastrnak further down the roster, although the triumvirate was reunited on the visitors’ go-ahead goal early in the second.
Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the power play at 3:03 of the first when McAvoy started and finished a three-way passing sequence with Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie Coyle before wiring a shot blocker side on Andersen to silence the crowd of 19,638 that had been in full voice moments earlier.
The Bruins new first line then connected when Heinen fed a pass in front to Marchand, who scored his second of the series with Zaitsev caught puck-watching at 6:38.
Andersen made a great save on Coyle in the slot to keep his team down by two before Toronto started to find its legs, with Rask stopping William Nylander from in tight on a good opportunity.
The Leafs couldn’t do much of anything on consecutive power plays, but Hyman got his team on the board just after the second penalty expired, tipping Rielly’s point shot while battling with Bruins defenceman John Moore in front with 2:05 left in the period.
Notes: Chris Chelios is the oldest player in NHL history to score a playoff goal at 45 years, 86 days. … Game 7, if necessary, would be Tuesday at TD Garden. … Canadian hip hop artist Drake, Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and Rob Baker of The Tragically Hip were in attendance.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press