The Toronto Maple Leafs have grown accustomed to playoff disappointment in recent years.
However, after putting together possibly their best defensive effort of the season, their latest victory has them on the brink of getting out of the first round for the first time since 2004.
Auston Matthews broke a scoreless tie in the third period, Kasperi Kapanen added another goal and the Maple Leafs held on to beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 Friday night and take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
With the goalie pulled for an extra skater, David Krejci got the Bruins on the board with 43.7 seconds left, but Boston couldn’t tie it up.
The Maple Leafs, who have alternated wins and losses in the first five games, now have a chance to close out the series when it shifts back to Toronto for Game 6 on Sunday.
“Total team victory,” Toronto’s Zach Hyman said. “Guys were battling. It took a full 60 to get it done, but we got it done”
Frederik Andersen had 28 saves for Toronto. The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask finished with 25.
Boston failed to convert on its three power plays, and Toronto was 0 for 1.
“Defensively the ice was tough,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “It was humid in the building. But I thought our guys kept grinding and stayed patient. We didn’t get in our own way tonight.”
The Maple Leafs’ goals broke up what had been a defense-dominated game for 2 1/2 periods.
Matthews’ fourth goal of the postseason came after he took a feed from Jake Muzzin and found an open corner of the net on a slap shot with 8:27 left. The Bruins challenged Matthews’ goal, arguing that Rask was interfered with, but the goal was upheld after a review.
“I guess you really just hope for the best,” Matthews said. “I never really got a good look at it, but I’m fortunate that they called it a good goal. So you’ll take it.”
Avalanche 5, at Flames 1: Colin Wilson and Mikko Rantanen each had two goals and an assist, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Calgary Flames 5-1 in Game 5 of their playoff series Friday night to advance to the second round.
Gabriel Landeskog also scored, and Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie each had three assists as the Avalanche won a playoff series for the first time since 2008. Philipp Grubauer stopped 28 shots and a penalty shot by Johnny Gaudreau in the first period.
T.J. Brodie scored for the Flames, and Mike Smith finished with 27 saves.
Calgary, which finished first in the Western Conference at 50-25-7, was beaten by a team that sprinted the final two weeks of the regular season to capture the West’s last wild card and then won four straight in this series after losing the opener.
The Flames’ ouster marked the first time both conferences top seeds were eliminated in the first round. East-leading Tampa Bay, which won the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record, was swept by Columbus.
Calgary ranked second in goal scoring in the regular season behind the Lightning and tied with San Jose. However, after opening with a 4-0 victory in Game 1, the Flames didn’t score more than two goals in any game. The NHL’s highest scoring team on home ice this season mustered only one in Game 5 despite head coach Bill Peters juggling his lines in an attempt to spark the offense.
Playoff veteran James Neal was a healthy scratch for the Flames with Austin Czarnik drawing in on the third line for his NHL playoff debut.