The Boston Bruins will try to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs from the playoffs when they host Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Friday.
Boston is ahead 3-1 in this best-of-seven series after splitting the first two games on home ice at TD Garden and taking both games in Toronto.
The fourth-seeded Bruins set up Friday's potential series clincher thanks in large part to a tremendous individual effort from David Krejci in Game 4. Krejci capped his hat trick with the winner at 13:06 of overtime to give Boston a 4-3 win over the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.
With the puck in the Boston zone, Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf pinched up to make a hit on Nathan Horton just as Horton was making a pass and the puck got behind him. Krejci picked up the disc and skated down the left wing, snapping a shot from down low that beat James Reimer for the victory.
Phaneuf, Toronto's captain, took full responsibility for the game-winning goal.
"I take responsibility for making a bad play. I made a bad play and it cost us the game." said Phaneuf.
Krejci scored his other two goals in the second period while Patrice Bergeron also had a goal in the second stanza for Boston, which won the Stanley Cup in 2011 before getting knocked out in the first round by Washington last spring.
"There are players who thrive on playoff hockey, and he's one of those guys," said Boston head coach Claude Julien about Krejci. "We know he's a great playmaker and skilled player, but the other part of his game is he doesn't shy away from traffic and he doesn't shy away a physical game. He's very gritty when he needs to be gritty."
Tuukka Rask made 45 stops in the win, while Zdeno Chara recorded an assist on all four goals. Boston forward Jaromir Jagr added an assist in the game, giving him 191 playoff points in his career and moving him past Brett Hull and into sixth place all-time.
Joffrey Lupul had a goal and an assist while Clarke MacArthur and Cody Franson also scored for the Maple Leafs, who dropped their first two home playoff games since 2004 to put the team in a deep hole. Reimer made 41 saves in the loss.
"It was a man's hockey game out there, with a lot of energy and a lot of physical play," said Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle. "That's the way the playoffs are played. We just have to find a way to bottle the positives we put forth in tonight's game and bring that for Friday in Boston."
If Boston, which was 16-5-3 as the host this season, can't close out this series tonight, then the Leafs will host Game 6 on Sunday.
The Leafs were 13-8-3 on the road during the regular season. They lost Game 1 in Boston by a 4-1 score before rebounding for a 4-2 decision in the following contest.
Toronto defenseman Mark Fraser suffered a scary injury in the third period when he was hit in the face by a Milan Lucic slap shot. Fraser needed surgery to repair a cranial fracture and is out indefinitely. John-Michael Liles expects to take his place in the lineup on Friday.
This is the 14th time these Original Six teams have met in the playoffs, but the first since 1974, when Boston swept Toronto in the opening round.