Toronto Maple Leafs third-line centre Nazem Kadri lost his cool once again against the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
With his team down two goals at the 14:03 mark of the third period, the undisciplined Kadri snuffed out any chance of a Toronto comeback when he took a vicious cross-checking major to the head of Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk.
WATCH | Kadri facing possible suspension after cross-checking major:
Kadri had scored the Maple Leafs lone goal a few shifts earlier, but with him in the dressing room as the result of an additional game misconduct, Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron scored the final goal of the evening for a 4-1 victory to knot the first-round series at 1-1.
Kadri’s incident was reminiscent of a year ago when he took a run at a defenceless Boston forward Tommy Wingels in the series opener at the same spot along the sideboards.
Toronto’s Nazem Kadri has been offered an in-person hearing for Cross-checking Boston’s Jake DeBrusk. Date and time TBD.
Kadri was suspended for three games for his actions last spring. As a repeat offender, he faces a similar suspension as the Maple Leafs head home for Games 3 and 4. The centre was offered an in-person hearing with NHL Player Safety after the game, leaving open the possibility of a ban longer than five games.
Kadri and DeBrusk had been battling each other all night long. DeBrusk felled Kadri with a knee-on-knee hit in open ice near the end of the second period. The play went undetected by referees Brad Meier and Trevor Hanson as the two officials had their whistles in their pocket for most of the game.
Andersen lone bright spot
Other than goalie Frederik Andersen, who was brilliant in this lopsided affair, Kadri was the Maple Leafs’ best player. He was intense and physical. Most of his teammates did not follow his lead.
Andersen did all he could to keep his club close with his 37 saves. His high-flying teammates have proven time and time again they have plenty of firepower to erase a three-goal deficit in a hurry.
But after the clunker they put forth in the series opener, the Bruins returned to what they do best. They played with intensity and determination — and they were opportunistic in taking advantage of the Maple Leafs’ mistakes.
The Bruins bounced back in a big way. Boston coach Bruce Cassidy seemed less concerned with matchups and as a result, there was good flow the Bruins game.
The same could not be said about Toronto. The Maple Leafs were caught chasing all evening instead of being chased as they were in the series opener.
Muzzin, Nylander make costly mistakes
Toronto defenceman Jake Muzzin, who was so good in the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 victory on Thursday, failed to knock down a pass with his right hand at Toronto’s blue line on a play that led to Brad Marchand’s goal late in the first period.
Maple Leafs forward William Nylander then had the gaffe of all gaffes when he fumbled the puck skating to safety behind his own net. But he left the puck in the crease for a thankful Danton Heinen, who put the Bruins ahead 3-0 midway through the second period.
About the only thing that went wrong for Boston was defenceman Torey Krug being forced out of the game in the second period when Muzzin knocked him into the side boards. Krug missed six games with a concussion last month and the Bruins’ blue line already was thin with injuries to John Moore and Kevan Miller.
The loss of Krug would be massive to the Bruins’ cause. He’s a risk taker and an important part of the Bruins power play.
If the Maple Leafs lose Kadri for three more games, he would be missed, too. Don’t forget Toronto dropped two of the three outings he was suspended for a year ago.