TORONTO — Bad breaks. Bad communication. And just plain old bad karma.
The Maple Leafs were left to rue all of the above after they generously handed the Bruins a 5-2 Game 3 win Monday night. Boston now owns a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“It’s tough to win games in the playoffs when you shoot yourself in the foot,” said Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk. “It makes it tough to win.”
Never mind the fact that Toronto fired 47 shots at Tuukka Rask, including 18 in the third period when they tried desperately to erase a 4-1 deficit.
Indeed, nothing they could do in the final frame — not even Phil Kessel’s power-play goal in the opening minute — could atone for the multitude of sins the Leafs committed over the first 40 minutes.
“Mistakes are part of the game,” said Dion Phaneuf, the Toronto captain and defenseman. “You try to limit them. Obviously tonight we made too many.”
Too many indeed.
The most egregious of them coming in the second period, when the Bruins capitalized on Toronto miscues to turn a 1-0 edge into an imposing 4-1 gulf.
Exhibit A was the utter larceny performed behind the Toronto net by wily old Jaromir Jagr.
The rejuvenated 41-year-old winger picked the puck from Ryan O’Byrne and feathered it to the waiting Rich Peverley, who promptly beat James Reimer to make it 2-0.
Then, a mere 50 seconds after young Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner cut the deficit in half, Milan Lucic provided Exhibit B by muscling his way past blue liners Mark Fraser and Carl Gunnarson and slid a perfect pass to Nathan Horton, who buried it past Reimer.
Voila, a two-goal Bruins lead once more.
“You have to give the opposition credit,” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. “They played hard. They forced us and we made some mistakes. Consequently they won the hockey game.”
The ugly period for Toronto was capped by Kessel’s blind pass during a Leafs power play that was pounced on by Daniel Paille. The speedy Bruin walked in beat Reimer (35 saves) with a backhander.
And to think the Leafs could have been left for dead much earlier — say midway through the first period — except for some strong work from Reimer.
“It was in a sense, a frustrating night,” said Reimer, “because I feel like I played well. They made some good plays and took some good shots. Good on them.”
Reimer was in fine rhythm in the opening stanza — when he was pelted with 17 shots and stopped all but one — Adam McQuaid’s blast that hit winger Joffrey Lupul on its way past Reimer.
“I’m not sure what exactly happened,” said Reimer. “I felt like it dived and went in.”
Still, it was his blocker save on Tyler Seguin and his left toe stop on Shawn Thornton that kept the Leafs within 1-0 at the first intermission.
The Leafs were well aware that Reimer was holding the door open for them, even if it was just a crack.
“Reims played good,” said defenseman Cody Franson, who led the Leafs with seven shots. “We left him hanging a couple times. In the playoffs, you can’t put that much weight on your goalie’s shoulders. We needed him to make too many saves for us to be successful tonight.”