BOSTON — Cliches become cliches for a reason.

Here’s the one that smacked the Boston Bruins right between the eyes Saturday night: The toughest game to win is the one in which you’re trying to end your opponents’ season.

And it’s not like they weren’t warned.

“If they watched games (Friday) night, which we did address, we try to stick to the game in front of us, but two teams that went to the Stanley Cup finals last year couldn’t close out,” Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy said Saturday morning. “So it’s difficult. We’ve talked about it all year. It’s hard to win in this league, and it’s especially hard to win in the playoffs. I think they’re aware of it. Hopefully they don’t overthink it and they just go out and play, play the way we need to play to have success.”

Nope, didn’t happen. The same Game 5 fate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators on Friday befell the Bruins on Saturday. And now they have a world of trouble on their hands.

With a chance to push the teetering Toronto Maple Leafs off the edge of the cliff, the Bruins simply stunk up TD Garden for most of the first half of Game 5, finding themselves in a two-goal hole halfway through the first period from which they never escaped. They lost 4-3 despite six power-play chances (they cashed one), including a 5-on-3 for 1:33 in the second period that went for naught.

Now the first-round series shifts to Toronto for Game 6 on Monday night, with the Bruins leading 3-2.

It would be easy to point to Frederik Andersen’s 42 saves and say he stole the game for the Leafs. And he was brilliant, making 19 saves in the third period, his best a pad stop on David Pastrnak off a rebound that could have tied the game.

But to simply give Andersen the tip of a cap would be to ignore what went on earlier.

It was a good night for the legion of Tuukka Rask haters, who had to stifle their moans and groans about the one-time Vezina Trophy winner after his superb performance in Game 4 in Toronto. In Game 5, Rask allowed four goals on just 13 shots and was pulled for Anton Khudobin after James van Riemsdyk roofed a power-play goal over his shoulder at 11:55 of the second period.

All four goals against were good scoring chances, but Rask needed to come up with a stop on one or two of them. The dagger was the one scored by Tyler Bozak from the bottom of the right circle that made it 3-1, just 51 seconds after David Backes finally electrified the building with a power-play goal.

When Cassidy pulled him, Rask gave Khudobin a stick tap to the seat of the pants and then ran down the runway before returning.

“I didn’t think he had it tonight, so we went with Anton, who has been very good for us,” Cassidy said. “And then there’s the part that gets the rest of the team’s attention.”

Rask could not blame Cassidy for giving him the hook.

“Probably could have stopped more pucks with my eyes closed. That’s about it,” Rask said. “It’s on me, but we’re moving on to the next one, and we’ll finish it out in Toronto.”

But this one isn’t all on Rask. The top defensive pairing of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy was on the ice for two of the Leafs’ three even-strength goals.

“It was not a good effort by us,” McAvoy said of the team. “That’s not indicative of how (Rask) played. A couple of unfortunate goals, some odd-man (situations). That second goal (Andreas Johnsson’s at 10:12 of the first that gave Toronto a 2-0 lead), I’ve got to turn around and try to get my stick in that position and try to get that puck. It’s unfortunate that it got by me. I’ve got to be better on those matchups. It’s definitely not (Rask’s fault) tonight. Whenever he gets pulled, we know that we didn’t do our job. He’s got our backs, and we’ve got his. We’ll go back to the drawing board and play a lot better in front him. And start from the beginning, not just pick it up in the second and third.”

Had the Bruins showed up on time Saturday night, we’re probably discussing a second-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning already. But the Lightning, who took care of their business Saturday by beating New Jersey in five games, will have to wait to see if the Bruins or Leafs advance.

After Saturday night, that is very much up in the air.

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