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Game 3 takeaways: Special teams dominance lifts Bruins to 4-2 win

Game 3 takeaways: Special teams dominance lifts Bruins to 4-2 win

Game 3 takeaways: Special teams dominance lifts Bruins to 4-2 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

It wasn't pretty, but the Boston Bruins have taken a 2-1 lead in their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It took a while for the Bruins to get going — they had zero shots on net over the final 12 minutes of the first period — but they ultimately emerged with a 4-2 victory in Game 3 at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night.

The Bruins have now won five straight Game 3s dating back to the 2021 playoffs.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Bruins' performance was their resiliency. They equalized just 3:01 after Matthew Knies opened the scoring in the second period. When Tyler Bertuzzi tied the game at 2-2 in the third period, it took the B's just 28 seconds to regain the lead again on a Brad Marchand goal.

Marchand also scored an empty-net goal late in the third period to seal the win, moving him into a tie with Cam Neely for first place on the team's all-time playoff goals leaderboard at 55.

Marchand's play in the third period set the tone for the B's during some shaky moments. That's why he's the captain.

The series continues Saturday night with Game 4 in Toronto. Before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Bruins-Leafs Game 3.

Special teams carries Bruins

The Bruins got a rough whistle in this game, but the penalty kill did its job very well.

This unit went a perfect 4-of-4, improving its mark to 10-of-11 through three games. That's a pretty good success rate against a Leafs team that had the seventh-best power play in the regular season.

Swayman was arguably the Bruins' best penalty killer. He made some terrific saves while the B's were shorthanded, including a clutch stop on a wide open Auston Matthews shot from inside the left faceoff circle during a second period Leafs power play. Swayman also made three Grade A saves during a Leafs power play early in the third period, too (see video below).

In total, he made six saves while the B's were shorthanded.

The Bruins also continued to be red-hot on the power play. Jake DeBrusk scored with the man advantage early in the third period to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

It was DeBrusk's third power-play goal of the series and Boston's fourth tally with the man advantage in the series. Marchand's empty-net goal at the end of the game was technically a power-play tally as well.

The Bruins scored at an impressive 30 percent rate on the power play in four games against Toronto during the regular season. The Bruins' power play is converting at a 50 percent rate (5-of-10) in Round 1. It's become a huge weapon for the B's and arguably the primary reason why they lead in the series.

Playoff intensity

This series has been very physical and Game 3 was no exception.

The Bruins and Leafs combined for 60 hits and 20 blocked shots in the first period alone. Bruins linemates Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak were on the receiving end of a couple huge hits on the same shift in the opening period.

Brad Marchand and Tyler Bertuzzi were two of the game's most physical players and got tangled up with each other on numerous occasions.

The Bruins and Leafs made some history through 40 minutes with the amount of hits tallied:

These teams have combined for 334 hits (169 for Bruins, 165 for Leafs) and 98 blocked shots (55 for Bruins, 43 for Leafs) through three games.

The Leafs have been just as physical (if not more) than the Bruins in this series. That's a pretty big change compared to the 2013, 2018 and 2019 first-round series between these teams when the Bruins were clearly the tougher team.

Swayman was Bruins' best player…again

The Leafs just can't figure out Jeremy Swayman.

The Bruins netminder made his second start of the series in Game 3 and was Boston's best player. The Leafs didn't open the scoring until there was 6:50 left in the second period. It could have been far worse for the Bruins but Swayman kept them in it.

He made saves on 28 of 30 shots for a .933 save percentage. The Leafs, based on the quality of their scoring chances, were expected to score 3.03 goals in Game 3, per Natural Stat Trick, but they only got two pucks past Swayman.

Swayman went 3-0-0 against the Leafs in the regular season and is now 2-0-0 in this series. He has a .971 save percentage and a 1.40 GAA in those seven games. He made 93 saves on 96 shots (.954 save percentage) in two starts this series.

The Bruins have alternated starts between Swayman and Linus Ullmark every game since Feb. 21. Will they keep the rotation going in Game 4? Given how well Swayman has played against the Leafs this season, and in this series especially, the smartest choice would be to go back to the University of Maine product on Saturday. And there's also an extra day of rest between Games 3 and 4, which should help Swayman.

Boston has a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in Game 4. You need your best goalie starting in that scenario.

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