BOSTON -- It was supposed to be Boston's night. But thanks to a desperate performance by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins merely added to their recent history of making life difficult for themselves.
After losing 2-1 to the Leafs on Friday night, Boston now has to come back to Toronto for Game 6 of their playoff series. The Bruins still lead three games to two but they will be taking a long look at themselves in the mirror before they get on the plane.
It wasn't until Toronto went ahead 2-0 some two minutes into the third period Friday that the Bruins hit high gear. And the fashionably late offence had coach Claude Julien steaming.
"This is something we have to take the blame for. It's of our own doing," said Julien. "They were a desperate team. They showed it at the beginning of the game and we were down 2-0 and all of a sudden we became the desperate team ... If there's anything they have to understand from this, it's that we need to play three periods like we did in the third if we expect to close this off."
Julien was blunt in his assessment of the squandered chance to put the Leafs away.
"Every once in a while the hockey gods will take care of the people that deserve it," he said. "Obviously they played 40 strong minutes and they deserved to win tonight. We have to lick our wounds and get ready for the next game."
Game 6 is scheduled for Sunday in Toronto, giving Leaf Nation another excuse to party. Game 7, if needed, is Monday in Boston.
"I'm sure that we've poked the Bruins," said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "They're going to be a very desperate hockey club come Sunday night and we better be equally as desperate."
Toronto survived a shaky opening minute before buzzing the Bruins for two periods.
"Our hockey club was prepared to play. We skated," said Carlyle. "And that's what we ask them to do. Go out and skate and work. And when we do that, we can be competitive."
The Leafs did more than skate. They added 46 more hits to their ledger, pushing their series total to 246 (compared to 39 and 204 for the Bruins).
"A huge bounce-back game for our team," said captain Dion Phaneuf.
Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur scored to ensure the Leafs live to fight another day. For MacArthur, who had talked of scoring on the night, it was his second goal in as many games after being a healthy scratch for two games.
The hard-skating Leafs probed Boston from all angles to quiet the yellow-and-black crowd of 17,565 -- the Bruins' 156th consecutive sellout. But down 2-0 two minutes into the third period, Boston charged back to threaten the Leafs and pepper James Reimer.
After Chara's goal, a Bozak penalty for delay of the game with 3:48 remaining further cranked up the tension. Toronto killed it off, only to see the Bruins pull their goalie.
"They kept coming," said Phaneuf. "But we did a good job of keeping most of the stuff to the outside. And when they did get through, Reims was huge for us."
The Bruins outshot Toronto 19-4 in the third period and 44-33 on the night. The Leafs blocked another 27 shots.
"It takes courage to get in those shooting lanes but you have to be able to have the people that are prepared to do it night in and night out," said Carlyle, who called Chara's booming shot "a lethal weapon."
-- The Canadian Press