Goal in overtime stuns home crowd into silence as Canadian franchise stare at possible early exit.
NHL: Hat-trick by Boston Bruins' David Krejci leaves Toronto Maple Leafs on brink
David Krejci scored in overtime to complete a hat-trick that gave the Boston Bruins a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday and a commanding lead in their NHL play-off series.
The Maple Leafs, back in the post-season for the first time in nine years, are now staring at an early play-off exit as they trail the best-of-seven first-round series 3-1 with Game 5 set for Boston on Friday.
Krejci's third goal left a capacity crowd at the Air Canada Centre stunned in disbelief after the Maple Leafs had largely controlled play during a thrilling overtime that was played at furious pace.
Breaking in on a two-on-one with Milan Lucic, Krejci picked the short side on Toronto netminder James Reimer for his fifth of the play-offs 13 minutes into overtime.
"I was looking to pass the whole way but Lucic is a lefty and he was on his backhand so that kind of made my decision a little easier," Krejci told reporters.
"I also had [Zdeno Chara], I was really thinking about leaving it for him for a one-timer because he's got the best one-timer in the league but they took him away at the last second so I just tried to shoot it.
"In overtime there is never a bad shot. It wasn't a perfect shot but it went in."
Toronto had jumped out to 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Joffrey Lupul and Cody Franson before Boston stormed back with second period tallies from Patrice Bergeron and a pair from Krejci to move in front 3-2.
But the Boston lead lasted all of 44 seconds before Clarke MacArthur answered for the Maple Leafs when he slammed home a big rebound past Tuukka Rask.
Toronto had a glorious chance to regain control of the contest when they were handed a two-man advantage for the final 41 seconds of the period but could not find the back of the net.
In the third period, it was Boston's chance to retake the lead when Toronto's Nazem Kadri was given four-minute penalty for high-sticking Chris Kelly in the face but Toronto killed off the man-advantage bringing the capacity crowd at the Air Canada Centre to its feet.
Neither team could find the back of the net during an edge-of-your-seat third period that sent the contest to overtime.
"It feels like a dagger after the effort that was put forth by our group," said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle. "It was a man's hockey game out there. There was a lot of energy, a lot of physical play but that's the way the playoffs are played."
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