The last time Boston and Toronto met, it was an emotional first round Game 7, when Boston eliminated the Leafs and skated their way to the Stanley Cup Final. It has been a strong run for the Leafs thus far, as they skated into Boston after facing the Devils on Friday night, beating them 2-1. Meanwhile, it has been a rocky road for Boston as of late, that road finally found them a win against Florida on Thursday. Toronto looked to continue their hot streak, while Boston hoped to spark one of their own.
Tuukka Rask got the starting nod for the Bruins, while James Reimer manned the crease on the opposing end. The game was truly a battle of the goaltenders, each showcasing their outstanding abilities between the pipes, for a combined 67 shots on goal through 60-minutes of play.
“I think they’ve got a real good duo there right now as far as goaltending is concerned; they’re able to utilize both of those guys and that’s always key to a team as well,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Leafs Reimer and Bernier.
Less than two minutes into the first period, it was old time hockey at its best. Leafs Frazer McLaren and Bruins Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves in front of the benches. The period was also filled with opportunity for Boston, pelting shots at the rock solid pads of Reimer — his Leafs on the other hand looked like a team playing back to back games, giving them a slow start. Slow legs aside, they managed to head on the power play first from a tripping call on Boychuk at 9:21. An amazing shift for Boston’s Krejci, Iginla and Lucic followed with multiple shots on net, keeping the puck in the offensive zone and creating chances despite desperately needing a change. The result drew a holding penalty on Toronto’s, Jay McClement giving Boston their first power play opportunity of the night at 14:13. It was just the chance Boston needed as captain Zdeno Chara netted his 3rd of the season, assisted by Igilna (7) and Krug (4) at 15:27. Shots on goal to close out the first, Boston 14, Toronto 7.
Boston’s valiant effort in the first carried over to the second. Just 45 seconds into the period, Bruins Iginla dropped the gloves with Leafs Clarkson in a well fought battle of punches. But the second period brought new life for Toronto as they looked to even the score and tallied close to equal shots on goal with Boston. The change in luck, perhaps the absence of Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid who suffered an injury in the first period and did not return — forcing a depleted defensive unit.
“We were fine. We were fine, we rotated through and they did a good job,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien on losing McQuaid. “Where we lacked was probably in the second period; got away from our game. But that wasn’t the defensemen it was the whole team.”
The exhaustion showed as Leafs Joffrey Lupul gave his team a momentum swing with his 8th of the season at 16:52 assisted by Paul Ranger. A well fought goal after a slow start, the Leafs knew the expectations coming into a contest with Boston.
“Yeah, certainly we know how they play and you’re never going to get an easy game especially coming in here,” said Leafs Joffrey Lupul. “So you know what to expect and I thought we elevated our game, especially in the second period really took control of the game for awhile, but unfortunately [Tuukka] Rask was pretty solid in the second and we couldn’t get that second one by him.”
With just 1:40 remaining in the 2nd, Boston tried to replicate their first goal as Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk earned himself a double minor, high-sticking penalty. Tempers began to boil over in the remaining seconds, but the score remained 1-1 as the teams headed to their respective rooms. Shots, Boston 24, Toronto 25.
Boston began the third period on a power play from the remaining double minor to van Riemsdyk, but just 1:06 into the period Patrice Bergeron upped the score 2-1 with his 4th of the season, assisted by Reilly Smith and Carl Soderberg. Leafs looked to even the score at 8:08, going on the power play courtesy of boarding by David Krejci; Boston effectively killed their opportunity. Bruins Carl Soderberg went off at 15:24 for holding the stick of Joffrey Lupul, but the Leafs couldn’t put one past the pads of Rask. Boston’s Bergeron went on to score his second of the night on an empty net with the help of Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand at 19:38. The goal gave Boston a 3-1 win. Lately the Bruins have struggled to get back into games, a habit that as a team, they’re hoping to break.
“Yeah it is,” said Bruins Patrice Bergeron on it being tough for his team to get back into the game lately. “We’re trying to build on the positive right now, especially getting back into playing our game and I think against Florida was a good effort but we could have been better and tonight I thought was even better than the last game and we got another two point night so we’ve got to look forward and keep building.”
That forward comes quickly, skating off a two game winning streak, the Bruins will look to keep the momentum going tomorrow when they face-off against Tampa Bay for a Veterans Day matinee in Boston. The game will feature the teams annual military appreciation night. Toronto will find themselves with a few days rest before they look to go wild in Minnesota on Wednesday.