Auston Matthews gives Maple Leafs lead in the 3rd
Auston Matthews gives Maple Leafs lead in the 3rd (Credit: )

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BOSTON -- — Max Domi held the puck inside the Toronto defensive zone, waiting for Auston Matthews to make his move. Like a quarterback spotting an open receiver, Domi sent the puck sailing over the neutral zone and hit Matthews in stride. In one motion, the NHL's goal-scoring leader gloved the puck with his left hand and dropped it in front of his stick, then skated in on Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark and beat him to snap a third-period tie. “Great pass to find Auston in the manner that he did,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said on Monday night after the Maple Leafs rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to beat Boston 3-2 and knot their first-round playoff series at one game apiece. “That's big-time stuff the way those guys connected.” Matthews had a goal and two assists and Domi also scored for Toronto, which snapped an eight-game losing streak against Boston over 534 days dating to November 2022. Ilya Samsonov stopped 27 shots and John Tavares also scored for the Maple Leafs, who haven’t beaten the Bruins in a playoff series since 1959. Now they have home-ice advantage heading into Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Saturday in Toronto. “We were able to even things up, but obviously there’s a long way to go here,” said Tavares, who was a member of the Maple Leafs team that blew a 3-2 lead to the Bruins in the 2019 playoffs. “You know they’re going to want to respond as well, so we’ve got to keep elevating.” Matthews scored 10 goals in an eight-game span down the stretch to reach 69, with two games left to try to hit 70 — a milestone only eight players in NHL history have reached. He was shut out in the final two regular season games and the first in the playoffs — no assists, either — matching his longest streak of the season without a point. That ended on Monday, when he had a part in all three Toronto goals — none more important than his tiebreaking breakaway with eight minutes left that gave the Leafs their first lead of the series. “It’s happening so fast, you don’t really have time to think,” Matthews said. "It’s honestly just instincts, and trying to make the right play. Morgan Geekie and David Pastrnak scored for Boston. Linus Ullmark, starting as part of a goalie rotation even though Jeremy Swayman won Game 1 on Saturday, made 30 saves. “No second guesses. He was terrific. He made multiple, big-time saves,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “It’s a strength of our team. Both of them played really well. We only scored two goals.” Two nights after Swayman stymied Toronto 5-1, the Leafs beat Ullmark at least two – and probably three – times in the second before being credited with the tying goal. With about six minutes left in the middle period, the Bruins goalie caught Calle Jarnkrok’s shot, but his glove may have been over the line when he did it. Replays never caught a clean picture of the puck and the line, so the no goal call on the ice was upheld. Three minutes later -- just 4 seconds into a Boston penalty for too many men on the ice – Tyler Bertuzzi swiped a puck out of the air and into the net. Although it was ruled a goal on the ice, replays showed Bertuzzi’s stick was above the crossbar and it was taken off the board. About 90 seconds later, though, Tavares put one in that left no doubt, turning and faking the slapshot before wristing the puck past Ullmark to make it 2-2. The Bruins, who opened a four-goal lead in the opener on Saturday, got a power-play goal midway through the first period on a cross-ice pass from Brad Marchand to Geekie. Just 50 seconds later, Domi took two swipes at a rebound to tie it 1-1. Boston went up 2-1 with just 8 seconds left in the first when Pavel Zacha made a backhanded pass to set up Pastrnak. “That obviously gives them life and momentum going into the second. And the game has potential now to be, in the back of your mind, very similar to the one the other night,” Keefe said. “We didn’t let that happen.” ------ AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl