BOSTON -- The intensity and physicality missing from Game 1 returned to TD Garden on Saturday night.
So did goals.
The Bruins, outhit in Thursday night's 4-1 loss by a Maple Leafs team known much more for its skill, got their own physical game going in Game 2, evening the series with a 4-1 decision in a game marked by fierce collisions, bad feelings and collateral damage. The B's were down to four defensemen after Torey Krug and Connor Clifton left with injuries, and Jake DeBrusk didn't come back after absorbing a cross-check to the head that saw Leafs antagonist Nazem Kadri ejected.
Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven series will be played in Toronto on Monday and Wednesday.
The Bruins' lineup, while not radically altered, did change from Game 1 -- partly by necessity, partly by choice.
"We didn't play to our identity in Game 1," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We knew that, were aware of it, wanted to have a good response game."
One component was the addition of veteran David Backes, who was left out of the lineup in Game 1. Backes responded in Game 2 with seven hits and an assist on the game-opening goal.
"I think Game 1 was a slap in the face, a little wake-up call," Backes said. "I think this was a great response for us."
Cassidy had decided by Saturday morning to add Backes to the lineup, but wasn't sure which forward he'd delete. DeBrusk, banged around enough in Game 1 that he needed a maintenance day on Friday, was one candidate, but DeBrusk skated in the morning, pronounced himself "100 percent," and played.
The deletion turned out to be third-line left wing Marcus Johansson, whom the team announced was sick. Danton Heinen, the line's right wing in Game 1, moved to the left side; Backes slotted in at right wing.
The changes paid a dividend just 4:44 into the game. Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, caught behind his own net by Backes on one side and Heinen on the other, ultimately lost the puck to Backes. He got it into the low slot for Charlie Coyle, who beat Frederik Andersen from there for his eighth goal in 46 career playoff games and his first as a Bruin.
"I was looking forward" to having Backes join the line, Coyle said. "He's a big guy, a full-package player. He brings it all."
The B's, already ahead 7-1 on the shot clock by the time Coyle scored, needed another 12 minutes before they added to their lead.
The Bruins got a break when Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin couldn't control a puck he gloved out of the air at the red line, which gave David Pastrnak a 2-on-1 with Brad Marchand. Pastrnak eventually got the puck to Marchand in the left circle, and Marchand waited until there he saw room between Andersen's pads to slide a shot through to the far side at 16:04.
The Bruins got another good-fortune goal 10:39 into the second period to make it 3-0. William Nylander, who was having difficulty handling a pass as the Maple Leafs tried to organize a breakout deep in their defensive zone, eventually lost control completely at the side of his net, by which time Heinen had swooped in to collect it. Heienen's first shot hit Andersen's skate, but the puck came straight back to him and he scored his first of the series and second in 11 career playoff games.
The second period was noteworthy as much for a level of physicality that took two players out of the game, although one only temporarily.
The Bruins lost Krug after Muzzin drilled him into the boards with enough force to knock off his helmet, and leave Krug staggering to his knees after he tried to stand up. Toronto agitator Nazem Kadri, who began a running battle with DeBrusk in Game 1, came out after DeBrusk caught him on the left knee with an attempted open ice check.
DeBrusk wasn't penalized, and while Kadri limped off the ice after the play, he was back in the third period to pull the Leafs within 3-1 with a tip-in goal against Tuukka Rask (30 saves) at 10:44. A retaliatory cross-check to the head of DeBrusk, which is expected to result in potential disciplinary action, earned Kadri a major penalty and game misconduct with 5:57 remaining; Patrice Bergeron scored one minute into the five-minute power play to make it 4-1.