As the final horn sounded at Scotiabank Arena and the Maple Leafs skaters spilled over the boards to celebrate taking a 2-1 series lead against the Bruins, David Pastrnak corralled the puck one more time in the high slot.
After his final two attempts were swallowed up by a diving Mitch Marner to close out the Leafs’ 3-2 win in Game 3 on Monday night, Pastrnak flung the biscuit down the other end of the sheet — a fitting conclusion in what was another frustrating night for the B’s winger.
The Leafs’ young core is another year older— and the addition of a 47-goal scorer in John Tavares certainly helps quite a bit — and yet, the Leafs have largely found themselves on the wrong end of betting odds going into their first-round rematch with the Bruins.
Why? A hefty amount of doubt lies in the Leafs’ shoddy track record when it’s come to shutting down Boston’s potent top line of Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
During last spring’s seven-game victory over the Leafs, Mike Babcock’s club had few answers for Boston’s dynamic trio up front — with Bergeron and Co. combining for nine goals and an absurd 30 points.
But through three games this spring, the results have been largely underwhelming for Boston’s go-to options on offense. Together, Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak have combined for three goals and six total points — four of which have come on the man advantage.
While the Bergeron line’s primary matchup in John Tavares, Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman have only generated one 5v5 goal in over 25 minutes of 5v5 TOI when they’ve skated against No. 37 and his crew — those defensive efforts haven’t translated over to the other side of the sheet.