The Leafs have a pulse
Embarrassed and desperate after getting steamrolled by the Boston Bruins through six ugly playoff periods, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a point to prove Monday.
His name sitting comfortably at the top of that list, Auston Matthews responded in a big way.
The centre scored the go-ahead goal in the second period as the Leafs picked up a 4-2 victory to cut the Bruins' lead in their first-round series to 2-1.
Toronto was reeling in the wake of 5-1 and 7-3 losses, but got back to using its speed on home ice.
``I don't think any of us felt we played how we're capable,'' Matthews said. ``Tonight definitely was a statement game.''
Matthews was fiery after Saturday's blowout, responding to a question about how Boston's top line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron could have an astounding 20 points in two games compared to his trio's goose egg with: ``(expletive) happens.''
The raw emotion that comes with being a young star came out a different way Monday after he took a feed from William Nylander down low at 5:13 of the second and zipped a laser-focused snapshot shortside on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to send Air Canada Centre into a frenzy.
``It just feels like an earthquake in your feet when you score, especially in playoffs,'' Matthews said. ``It's definitely emotional.''
Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said he hopes the goal takes a weight off the 20-year-old's shoulders.
``When you're my age, social media doesn't really affect your life,'' said Babcock. ``When you're his age it affects your life. You know what people are saying.''
Patrick Marleau, with two, and James van Riemsdyk also scored for Toronto, while Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly added two assists each.
Frederik Andersen made 40 saves for the Leafs, who will look to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinal Thursday in Game 4.
Adam McQuaid and Zdeno Chara replied for Boston. Sean Kuraly had two assists for the Bruins, who got 26 stops from Rask.
Notes: Marleau's first goal moved him past Gordie Howe and into 17th place on the NHL's all-time playoff list. ... Toronto winger Andreas Johnsson left the game in the third favouring his left leg. ... Leafs centre Nazem Kadri sat out the second game of his three-game suspension. ... Toronto winger Leo Komarov was sidelined with a lower-body injury.