Auston Matthews scored the go-ahead goal in the second period as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated Boston 4-2 on Monday to cut the Bruins’ lead in their first-round series to 2-1.
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 to get the win.
Adam McQuaid and Zdeno Chara replied for Boston. Sean Kuraly had two assists for the Bruins, who got 26 stops from Tuukka Rask.
The Leafs will look to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinal in Thursday’s Game 4 before the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday.
Held pointless through 120 minutes where Toronto was outscored, outmuscled and outplayed in losing by a combined 12-4 scoreline at TD Garden, Matthews snapped a 2-2 tie with 5:13 left in the second when he rifled a shot shortside upstairs on Rask from a sharp angle after a great feed down low by William Nylander.
Boston’s top line of David Pastrnak (four goals, five assists), Brad Marchand (one goal, five assists) and Patrice Bergeron (five assists) put up an astonishing 20 points through the first six periods of the series while also holding Matthews and Toronto’s top unit off the scoresheet.
But the Leafs finally had an answer on this night as the trio failed to find the range.
The Bruins’ power play _ a ridiculous 5 for 10 in the series coming into Monday _ got its first opportunity early in the third, but Pastrnak hit the post off a feed from Rick Nash.
The Leafs finally sealed it with 3:35 left when Marleau scored his second of night on a 2-on-1 rush, firing a shot past Rask for the 70th playoff goal of the veteran winger’s career.
Pulled after allowing three goals on five shots in the first period of Game 2, Andersen robbed Pastrnak on a jaw-dropping diving stick save with Rask on the bench for an extra attack with just over two minutes to go to help preserve Toronto’s win.
Toronto led 1-0 after the first, but Boston tied things at 3:06 of the second when McQuaid’s shot from the point squeezed under Andersen’s pad and dribbled in. The goal came moments after Andersen made a ridiculous glove save from his belly on David Krejci with Nash and Travis Dermott battling in the blue paint.
The Leafs went back ahead 43 seconds later when Marner controlled a pass off the boards from Rielly before feeding Marleau in front.
But the Bruins again responded on a goal Andersen will want back when Chara ripped a shot off his mask and in from an impossible angle at 6:19.
Toronto’s Kasperi Kapanen, who hit the post early his team’s ugly 7-3 loss in Game 2, found iron again later in the period on a shot that beat Rask clean, but Matthews would make no mistake later in the period.
After getting thumped in Games 1 and 2, the Leafs had a number of chances early as they returned to a boisterous Air Canada Centre before a controversial sequence led to the opening goal.
Boston was left fuming after centre Riley Nash, who returned to the lineup after suffering an ear laceration on March 31, was ruled to have put fired the puck directly over the glass for a delay of game penalty with just over three minutes left in the first, even though television replays suggested otherwise.
Toronto, which was 1 for 7 with the man advantage through the first two games, made the Bruins pay just seven seconds later when van Riemsdyk scored his second goal of the series slipping the rebound of Tyler Bozak’s initial shot through Rask at 17:05 to give the Leafs their first lead of the series.
The home side had a couple of other opportunities earlier in the period, but Rask stretched to rob Andreas Johnsson with a great save before Kapanen didn’t get all of his backhand attempt on a breakaway.
But apart from van Riemsdyk’s goal, the biggest cheer came when Zach Hyman levelled Marchand with a solid hit that sent the Bruins winger flying.
Again minus centre Nazem Kadri, who served the second game of a three-game ban for his hit on Tommy Wingels in Game 1, Toronto bumped Tomas Plekanec up from the fourth line to play between Marleau and Marner on the No. 2 unit.
Toronto winger Leo Komarov sat out with a lower-body injury suffered Saturday, opening the door for veteran Dominic Moore move into Plekanec’s old spot on the fourth line between Johnsson and Kapanen.
Hyman, meanwhile, return to the top line with Matthews and Nylander.
Marleau’s first goal moved him past Gordie Howe and into 17th place on the NHL’s all-time playoff list. Andreas Johnsson left the game in the third period favouring his left leg collided with Marchand and did not return.