A large part of the focus afterward was a goaltender interference call.
Which, for Boston, was a large part of the problem.
In a tight-checking contest with a surprising lack of oomph for a Game 5, Toronto’s Auston Matthews broke a scoreless tie with 8:27 left. To the eyes of the Bruins, Matthews dropped his one-time hammer after Zach Hyman pushed off Charlie McAvoy and backed into Tuukka Rask, who couldn’t get over in time to make the save.
“Clearly he interferes with Tuukka,” coach Bruce Cassidy said after the 2-1 loss. “It’s either interference or it’s not. . . . From my viewpoint, certainly it looked like goaltender interference.”
The goal was reviewed and upheld. It was a talking point because the Bruins couldn’t muster enough offense Friday to dig themselves out. Instead, the Maple Leafs took the gift and chartered home with a 3-2 series lead, and a chance to close it out Sunday. Puck drop for Game 6 will come after 3 p.m., by which time the Black and Gold had better rediscover their attacking game.
David Krejci scored on a sharp feed from David Pastrnak with 43.4 seconds to go. It got the TD Garden crowd, to that point too quiet, too often, on their feet and screaming. They left sullen after the 6-on-5 unit of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Krejci, and Pastrnak couldn’t find the equalizer.
“Good question,” was Krejci’s response when asked what happened to Boston’s offense, which scored six times in Game 4 in Leafland, and had outscored its opponent, 13-12, entering Friday.
“If you have the answer, I would like to know,” Krejci said, “so we’ll put more pucks in the net the next game.”
Cassidy’s diagnosis: They turned down too many good shots, on a night where good shots were hard to come by. On the whole, they were too often guilty of making the pretty play, trying to set up tap-ins or high-percentage chances by going east-west. A simpler approach may have helped, especially on Garden ice that players said was sloppy on a warm, humid day.
The loudest damnation was an 0-for-3 showing on the power play, which had three chances in the first half of the game but produced five shots and nothing on the board.
Entering Game 5, the Bruins had the second-best power play in the playoffs, but they fizzled on Friday. Toronto, victimized on 5 of 11 power plays coming in, made adjustments, and Freddy Andersen (28 saves) was there.
“Tough loss, you know?” said Pastrnak, who landed five of his seven attempts, and played 23 minutes as Cassidy shortened his bench. Marchand led all forwards with 23:49; Bergeron, DeBrusk, and Krejci all skated more than 19 minutes. “We had chances to get the first goal. When it’s a long, tied game, sometimes the one goal is what you need, and we didn’t get it first.”
It was Matthews, instead, who took Jake Muzzin’s patient dish from up top and fired it home. Rask said the bump “wasn’t a major contact,” but he felt it kept him from stopping the shot.
“I would have gotten a push because I saw the pass going that way,” Rask said. “You don’t want to start selling it. I guess if I just fell on my ass there it might have been a different story, but yeah. Tough.”
With the Bruins pushing to tie the score, Kasperi Kapanen finished a 3-on-2 break with 6:15 left. The Bruins’ defense pair of Krug and John Moore couldn’t handle the rush, and Rask said his skate caught a rut. He made 25 saves otherwise, and his mates didn’t force Andersen to make enough, or test Toronto’s newfound commitment to defensive structure.
“That was probably my biggest beef,” said Cassidy, who leaned heavily on his top six forwards in the third. “Not generating enough offense with shots or shot-recovery situations where we could take advantage of coverage. We just turned down too many shots in my estimation.
“I don’t mind the style of the game, being a low-scoring game, because generally that works in our direction, but Toronto’s proven in this series they’re getting more comfortable with it. And clearly, they were tonight.”
The third power play was the product of an uncharacteristic puck-over-glass penalty by an end-of-shift Mitch Marner. Kapanen earned a breakaway bid after Krug muffed the puck at the blue line. Rask got a piece of his wrister. The boos rained down.
The Boston keeper, a hard-luck loser, was arguably the Bruins’ best player Friday. He may have to be Sunday.
He better have competition, or their offseason might begin Monday.
“Win or lose, I think you just park it right after and get some rest, and maybe do a little practicing the next day and then that’s it,” Rask said. “I think our mind-set has been pretty good with that, so not going to change now.
“Play our game and play it as well as we can and then the results — whatever happens, happens and we can live with it.”
The last time the Bruins were down 3-2 in a series and won was the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, against Vancouver. Several in the room who were there — Bergeron, Chara, Krejci, Marchand, Rask — know what it takes.
“We have to rely on each other and put ourselves in a bubble and do the job,” Bergeron said. “That’s the bottom line. Everything is on the line now.”