8 a.m.: The Bruins survived overtime in one of the best games we’ve seen in a long time in Game 4 in Toronto, and they’ll get their first chance to close out the series Friday.
The B’s and Maple Leafs return to TD Garden in Boston on Friday night for Game 5 with Boston holding a 3-1 series lead and looking to end their first-round series. The Bruins, when holding a 3-1 series lead, are just 9-8 in Game 5 in their history, but they’ve eventually won 15 of the 17 games they’ve held a 3-1 series lead. The Leafs, meanwhile, are just 4-10 in Game 5 situations where they’re done 3-1 and just 1-13 in those series overall.
Boston is in position to win the series after a thrilling 4-3 win in overtime in Game 4 on Wednesday. David Krejci continued his excellent play in the playoffs, capping a hat trick with the game-winning goal in the first overtime period. Krejci took the league lead in playoff points with that performance, and he now has five goals and five assists in just the four games.
If Krejci has been the Bruins’ No. 1 star through four games, then Tuukka Rask is at least No. 2, maybe No. 1A. The goaltender has been simply fantastic, and he took his game to a new level in Toronto. Rask set a career-high with 45 saves — a number he totaled in both games — and he kept the game alive long enough for Krejci to score the OT winner in Game 4. If he continues to play like he did in Toronto, summer won’t be far away for the Leafs.
However, Toronto has shown quite a bit in this series. After looking overmatched and outclassed in Game 1, the Leafs bounced back with a win in Game 2 before giving Boston all it could handle in Games 3 and 4.
But their backs are up against the walls, which will make a quick start in Game 5 even more important for the Bruins. If they can come out flying and take the Leafs out of the game early, there’s always the chance Toronto packs it in and the B’s cruise to a win. The good news for them is that they’ll have Nathan Horton in the lineup. Horton took a big hit from Dion Phaneuf in order to move the puck leading up to Krejci’s goal, and the Bruins forward went down hard. He told reporters Thursday that he’s feeling fine, which is good news for the Bruins, of course, with the line of Krejci, Horton and Milan Lucic playing the best it has all year.
On the other side, the Leafs will have to make some changes on the blue line. Defenseman Mark Fraser is out after taking a puck to the head off the stick of Lucic in Game 4. Toronto coach Randy Carlyle revealed Thursday that Fraser suffered a cranial fracture. Fraser said John-Michael Liles will be reinserted into the lineup in Fraser’s place. Liles played in Game 1, but he’s been a healthy scratch in the games since.
Puck drop from the Garden is scheduled for 7 p.m.