After getting steamrolled in the first two games and eventually falling into a 3-1 series hole, the Maple Leafs have won two straight against the Bruins to force a Game 7. They came up with a gutsy 3-1 win in Toronto on Monday night to extend the series, which will head back to Boston for a win-or-go-home finale.
The last time these two teams met in the postseason, it resulted in Boston delivering a soul-crushing defeat to Toronto after three late goals to force overtime in Game 7.
That was back in 2013, and while anticipation is high for this rematch between two Original Six rivals, the Bruins and Maple Leafs are very different teams than the last time they faced off under the pressure of the postseason. Both teams have been reinvigorated by a promising crop of young talent. Toronto has Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and others. The Bruins have David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Ryan Donato, and others.
That's not to say that there aren't returning faces, as there are a number of veterans on both sides who are quite familiar with the guys in the opposing sweaters. It's just that both teams have gone through their share of organizational struggles since that last meeting, and now they're in a place where it feels like they've turned a corner. This could be the first of several matchups between the two in the coming years.
Here's everything you need to know about the series:
How to watch
(All times ET)
Game 1, Thursday, April 12: Bruins 5, Maple Leafs 1
Game 2, Saturday, April 14: Bruins 7, Maple Leafs 3
Game 3, Monday, April 16: Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 2
Game 4, Thursday, April 19: Bruins 3, Maple Leafs 1
Game 5, Saturday, April 21: Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 3
Game 6, Monday, April 23: Maple Leafs 3, Bruins 1
Game 7, Wednesday, April 25: Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m.
NHL Playoffs odds
The Bruins and Leafs both have quite a bit of talent and depth on the front end, and both of their offenses are led by a very strong top line. Boston has an outstanding two-way trio with David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand -- all of whom scored 30 or more goals this year -- while the Leafs' top unit of Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews and William Nylander can give defenses fits with their skill and speed. The Leafs to spread their production a little bit more and will enter the series a bit healthier than the Bruins, so they could have a slight edge on the front end. It's not much though.
Edge: Maple Leafs
The Bruins' back end has dealt with plenty of injuries, and they've lost a top-four defenseman in Brandon Carlo for the year thanks to a fractured ankle at the tail end of the season. Their top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy has been very good for a majority of the year (they were a little rusty upon reuniting late in the season following injury) and, if healthy, should lead the charge for a defensive unit that has been solid and responsible, giving up the third-fewest goals in the league this season. Meanwhile, Toronto's defense isn't great. The Leafs don't have a single dominant shutdown guy and their right side is pretty questionable. Ron Hainsey is playing top pairing minutes, and he's got Nikita Zaitsev and Roman Polak (who needed surgery to repair a brutal leg injury suffered this time last year) behind him.
Boston's Tuukka Rask and Toronto's Frederik Andersen are both highly skilled goalies capable of taking over games and stealing wins for the team in front of them. They're also two goaltenders that can be plagued by inconsistency. Both have looked like Vezina-caliber goaltenders during stretches this year, but haven't managed to sustain that quality of play long enough to put them in truly elite territory. If they're both at their best, there's not much of a discernible gap between the two, though Rask's career playoff numbers have been more impressive.
The Bruins and Leafs both have excellent power-play units that leave little room for error. The Leafs rank slightly better on the man-advantage with a 24.9 percent conversion rate -- good enough for second in the NHL this season. The Bruins aren't far behind, as their 23.6 percent rate ranks them fourth in the league. However, there's more of a gap on the penalty kill, as the Bruins rank third among all teams with a 83.7 percent kill rate and have nine shorthanded goals on the year. The Leafs are 11th with an 81.4 percent kill and just four shorties.
Blackburn: I'm expecting a tight back-and-forth series here, but I expect the Bruins to hold a defensive advantage and have more opportunities in the series. Their top six should be able to take advantage of Toronto's deficiencies on defense. Bruins in 6.
Benjamin: There's a temptation to project Auston Matthews advancing to the second round this year, especially since Toronto is no joke offensively, but neither is Tuukka Rask in the net. And with Boston healthier than it's been for a while, this one should allow the Bruins to show what they're made of early on. Bruins in 7.
Skiver: I'd give Boston the edge in net for this series, which puts them over the top. Tuukka is too good to go out in the first round, despite strong offensive firepower from Toronto. Bruins in 7.