Maple Leafs report cards: Offence falters in Game 3 loss

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Maple Leafs report cards: Offence falters in Game 3 loss

Brad Marchand scored the game-winner before sealing Game 3 for Boston with an empty net goal.

Could you write a worse game script for Maple Leafs fans? Mitch Marner and Matthew Knies teamed up for a beautiful second-period goal, but the Leafs failed to generate an abundance of high-danger chances. Their special teams let them down yet again, and Auston Matthews failed to pick up a point for the second time in three games. William Nylander’s continued absence was felt in the 4-2 loss, and the Leafs are once again desperate for a win ahead of Game 4 on Saturday night.

Three stars

First star: Matthew Knies

Knies made a great pass to set up John Tavares for Toronto’s best chance of the first period but was not rewarded on the scoresheet. However, it was only a matter of time, as he drove to the net and put home a great pass from Marner to open the scoring for the Leafs in the second.

He set up Marner for a great chance on his very next shift, but his linemate was unable to slide the puck through traffic.

Second star: Mitch Marner

Toronto’s top power-play unit surrendered an early short-handed breakaway, and while Marner was only partially responsible, he deserves at least some of the blame for being a little bit too aggressive while being the last man back. However, Ilya Samsonov bailed him out, and Marner made an incredible play to set up Knies for the game’s first goal. He played 23:06 and showed off his offensive skill set in a game where hardly anyone else could.

Third star: John Tavares

Tavares had Toronto’s best chance of the first period but couldn’t quite sneak the puck under the crossbar. His work in the neutral zone kicked off the sequence for Toronto’s first goal, and it felt like he was winning puck battle after puck battle. He also set up Bertuzzi for an excellent chance on an early third-period power play, but his teammate failed to capitalize. His line was Toronto’s best, but he did take a costly penalty in the final minutes.

Player reports


The third line (Nick Robertson, Pontus Holmberg and Calle Järnkrok)

Their minutes were largely uneventful, which is what Sheldon Keefe is looking for. Holmberg came close to setting up Reaves for a tap-in at the end of the second, and both Robertson and Järnkrok had a decent chance late in the third. They were good, but not great.

The fourth line (Connor Dewar, David Kämpf and Ryan Reaves)

They played boring minutes and did their job effectively. Reaves played only 2:16 in the first, but he got the crowd fired up by throwing two heavy checks on Pavel Zacha. Kämpf made a nice pass to set up Dewar for a good chance halfway through the second but he couldn’t beat Jeremy Swayman.

Jake McCabe

McCabe showed off his strong gap control at the end of the first to break up a rush from Marchand. The Bruins failed to generate much of anything during his minutes early but he was on for Jake DeBrusk’s power-play goal in the early third.


Morgan Rielly

Rielly’s been fine thus far in this series, but not quite the playoff version of Rielly that we’re used to. He picked up an assist and tied the game up by throwing the puck on net in the third but didn’t create much of anything outside of that.

Simon Benoit

Benoit took a puck-over-glass penalty 40 seconds in, but his team bailed him out. He then bounced back nicely by throwing a hard open-ice hit on David Pastrnak. He wasn’t on for a goal against and largely did his job.


Ilya Lyubushkin

Lyubushkin was strong defensively in the first, but James van Riemsdyk got around him for a breakaway chance in the second. That was his only major mistake, as he wasn’t on for a goal against.


Ilya Samsonov

The first five shots of the game went Boston’s way, and Samsonov made a couple of big saves to weather the storm. Toronto’s top power-play unit gave up a short-handed breakaway a handful of minutes later, but Samsonov once again found a way to keep the game tied.

The Leafs settled in defensively and gave him a bit of a breather, and he rewarded them with yet another huge breakaway stop in the second. However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, as Trent Frederic tied the game on a shot that Samsonov is expected to stop:

DeBrusk then gave the Bruins the lead in the early third:

Twenty-eight seconds after Tyler Bertuzzi tied it up, Marchand beat Samsonov with a perfect shot from the slot:


Joel Edmundson

Edmundson picked up a secondary assist on Knies’ opening goal but was on for Boston’s first three goals. He’s a good player in the corners but really struggles to move the puck at times.


Auston Matthews

Matthews failed to generate much in the first but then hit the post one minute into the second. He drew a penalty to give the Leafs a power play in the early third, but his line got outplayed. He’s held to a high standard and simply didn’t come close to it in Game 3.

Tyler Bertuzzi

Bertuzzi failed to create much of anything offensively in the opening 40 minutes, and he took an unnecessary roughing penalty at the end of the second that resulted in a Bruins goal. He tied the game halfway through the third when Rielly’s point shot deflected off his skate, but his line was on for a goal against less than 30 seconds later. The trio struggled.

Max Domi

Domi created a half-decent scoring chance for himself at the end of the first, but it was a quiet period for just about every offensive catalyst. He wasn’t great in the second, as he had an iffy turnover that led to a pretty good chance the other way. He also had a front-row seat for Marchand’s go-ahead goal in the third.


Timothy Liljegren

I wouldn’t say that he played poorly, but I barely noticed him. Consider this an “incomplete” grade.

Game score 

Final grade: C-

There’s no such thing as a moral victory come playoff time, so you can consider every win to be an A+ and every loss to be an F. However, the Leafs deserve a C- for how they actually played. The opening 40 minutes were dull at five-on-five, as this was more of a defensive battle. Samsonov gave up a weak goal that allowed the Bruins to tie the game heading into the final frame, but he had also made a couple of breakaway stops earlier in the game. Ultimately, a low-scoring tie game heading into the third felt fair.

The Leafs had a chance to take control of the game on a late second-period power play, but Bertuzzi took an undisciplined penalty, and the man advantage soon turned into extra work for the penalty kill. Boston showed its special teams dominance over Toronto yet again, as DeBrusk scored on the resulting power play one minute into the third. The Leafs tied it halfway through the period when Rielly’s point shot hit off a pair of skates and in, but Marchand responded less than 30 seconds later, and the Leafs couldn’t recover.

What’s next for the Leafs?

Staying at home for Game 4 on Saturday at 8 p.m. on Hockey Night in Canada.

(Photo of Brandon Carlo and Auston Matthews: John E. Sokolowski / USA Today)