Bruins Bounce Back to Defeat Leafs, 5-2
Toronto — The Boston Bruins spoiled the return of playoff hockey to Toronto, scoring two quick goals in the second period in a 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs last night.
Adam McQuaid, Rich Peverley, Nathan Horton, Daniel Paille and David Krejci, with an empty-net goal with 1:17 remaining, scored for Boston
The win came before 19,746 fans inside the Air Canada Centre. Outside, a blue-and-white throng watched on a big screen in Maple Leaf Square as playoff hockey returned to Toronto for the first time since 2004.
After being beaten 4-2 in Boston on Saturday night, the Bruins upped their game. The Leafs, meanwhile, made mistakes and were punished, although they tried to close the gap with a busy third period in which they outshot the visitors 18-6. The Leafs finished with a 47-38 edge in shots.
Game 4 is tomorrow in Toronto, with Boston leading 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
The dominant line of Milan Lucic, Krejci and Horton finished with two goals and six assists. They have combined for 17 points through the first three postseason games, with five goals and 12 assists.
Jake Gardiner and Phil Kessel replied for Toronto in a physical game.
It was the Leafs’ first home playoff game since May 4, 2004, when Toronto lost 3-2 in overtime to Philadelphia to lose the conference semifinals 4-2. Fans were rewarded for their patience with free scarves last night — but not with a win.
The last home playoff win came in that same series, a 3-1 victory on April 30, 2004.
For the Bruins, the playoffs are business as usual. Boston, which won the Cup two years ago, is in the postseason for the sixth straight year.
Inside the arena, chants of “Go Leafs Go” started before warm-ups. Even the national anthem singer got an ovation, with the crowd belting out “O Canada” with him.
The crowd showed Kessel some love, chanting “Thank You Kessel.” That was unlike in Boston, where fans used the chant to taunt the former Bruin.
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference returned from his one-game suspension. Rookie Dougie Hamilton, who replaced Ference on Saturday, dropped out of the lineup.
Toronto outshot Boston early but it was James Reimer called on to make a huge save midway through the period. He gave up a rebound and Tyler Seguin swooped in, but Reimer stopped his close-range backhand with his blocker.
The Bruins had an edge about them and scored first when McQuaid’s shot from the point beat Reimer to the stick side. The Toronto goalie looked aghast, as if the puck had done something strange before passing him.
It was Boston’s seventh goal of the series and the fourth scored by defensemen.
The Bruins continued to dictate the game early in the second period before Tuukka Rask was forced to make back-to-back saves off Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak in a rare Leafs rush.
Boston went ahead 2-0 when 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr, who was lively all night, stripped Ryan O’Byrne of the puck behind the goal and fed Peverley, who stuffed it past a helpless Reimer.
Dion Phaneuf hit the Boston goalpost after skating in from the point and taking a perfect pass from Nikolai Kulemin. Then Gardiner got the fans out of their seats when Bruin penalty killer Chris Kelly’s failed clearance went to him. Gardiner skated in from the blue-line and snapped a shot over the glove of Rask for his first playoff goal.
The fans were still celebrating — inside and outside the building — when Lucic cruised down the left wing and sent a laser-like pass to Horton, who beat Reimer.,
The Bruins’ onslaught continued as Kessel gave up the puck on a power play and Paille raced in alone to beat Reimer with a backhand.
An opportunistic Kessel closed the gap to 4-2 just 47 seconds into the third period. Rask slid out of position and Kessel fired it into the net over a sliding Bruin.
That earned another round of “Thank You Kessel” chants. There wouldn’t be enough of them for the Leafs, though.
Notes : Jagr’s assist on Boston’s second goal was his 190th career NHL playoff point. That tied him with Brett Hull for sixth place on the league’s all-time playoff points list. ... The last home playoff win for Toronto came in that same series with the Flyers, a 3-1 victory on April 30, 2004.