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Bruins top Leafs 5-1 in Game 1 of NHL playoffs first round

Jake DeBrusk had two goals and an assist as the Boston Bruins downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 1 of their first round NHL playoff series on Saturday.

John Beecher, Brandon Carlo and Trent Frederic — into an empty net — also scored for Boston, which got 35 saves from Jeremy Swayman.

Brad Marchand and Charile McAvoy had two assists each for the Bruins, who swept the regular season series 4-0-0 with the Leafs.

David Kampf replied for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov stopped 19 shots.

The Leafs winger William Nylander sat out with an undisclosed injury — the first game he’s missed for anything other than illness since November 2016.

Hockey players jostle for the puck in front of the net.
Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov scrambles for the puck as players crash the net around him during first period play. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Toronto won its first post-season series in 19 years last spring before falling to the Florida Panthers in the second round. Boston had a record-breaking 2022-23 campaign, but fell victim to the Panthers to open its playoffs.

Toronto and Boston are meeting in the first round for the fourth time in the last 12 years. The Bruins took all three previous series — in 2013, 2018 and 2019 — in seven games.

After the visitors registered the first four shots of the game on Saturday, Boston took a 1-0 lead at 2:26 of the opening period when Beecher scored his first-career playoff goal on a 2-on-1 after Joel Edmundson pinched at the offensive blue line.

Samsonov heard a symphony of iron behind him as the period wore on, with Charlie Coyle hitting the post before both Charlie McAvoy and Pavel Zacha chimed shots off the crossbar.

Hockey players from opposing teams are lifted off the ice as they collide.
Toronto’s Mitch Marner and Boston’s Charlie McAvoy collide. (Michael Dwyer/The Associated Press)

Bruising Bruins forward Pat Maroon also nearly put Leafs defenceman Timothy Liljegren into Boston’s bench inside a pulsating TD Garden that watched Toronto winger Max Domi cross-check and slash Marchand before the opening faceoff.

The Leafs couldn’t connect on a 4-on-3 power play to start the second and Calle Jarnkrok — back in the lineup following a long injury absence — was stopped on a partial break moments later.

Toronto superstar Auston Matthews, who finished the regular season with 69 goals, beat Swayman in a race for a loose puck shortly after that, but sent his effort off the post.

Hockey players are seen seated on the bench.
Leafs players and coach Sheldon Keefe are seen on the bench during the 3rd period. (Michael Dwyer/The Associated Press)

Carlo blasted a shot past Samsonov with Leafs forward Pontus Holmberg screening his netminder at 5:47 for a 2-0 Bruins lead.

Boston’s under-fire power play — until Saturday, that is — then went to work.

DeBrusk snapped his first of the night through another screen with Matthews off for high-sticking at 15:02.

A hockey player celebrates a goal while players on the opposing team look on.
Boston’s Charlie Coyle celebrates after a 2nd period Bruins goal. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Domi then took a slashing penalty and DeBrusk added his second off a Marchand feed for a 4-0 advantage at 17:34.

The winger almost completed his first playoff hat trick short-handed in the period’s dying seconds, but hit another post.

They got a fourth-line goal at 1:39 when Kampf beat Swayman. Leafs defenceman Simon Benoit hit the post shortly thereafter as Toronto finally pushed back.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series returns to TD Garden on Monday.

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