Special teams key Bruins' win over Leafs
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' special teams were just that in Saturday night's 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Facing a team ranked No. 5 in the league in both power plays and penalty killing, the Bruins scored two power-play goals on three tries and shut the Leafs out on their three extra-man chances to win their second straight game after a 1-3-1 slide.
"We looked at video and obviously we realized that they're pretty stingy and they're playing well on their (penalty kill) and their power play, they obviously have the firepower up front to make the plays and stretch us," said center Patrice Bergeron, who broke a 1-1 tie with a third-period power play goal and then scored into the empty net in the final minute.
"I thought we did a good job of trying not to give too much; if we gave up ... some of the shots were on the outside, which we talked about and Tuukka (Rask) made some big saves for us. Yeah, it is something that we talked about before the game."
The 3-for-3 on the penalty kill gave the Bruins 18 straight kills; after they had allowed five power play goals in the row.
Defenseman Zdeno Chara converted a power-play pass from right winger Jarome Iginla for a first-period lead. Right winger Joffrey Lupul, rushing 1-on-4 as his team changed lines, surprised Rask with a 30-footer to tie the game with 3:08 left in the second period.
Rask stopped the other 33 shots.
"It was good challenge on both sides (of the penalty situations)," said Iginla, who engaged in a spirited fight with fellow right winger David Clarkson."
The game was the first between the Original Six division foes since the Bruins pulled off a last-minute comeback and eliminated the Leafs in Game 7 of the first round of last spring's playoffs. And it was intense from the start, each team dominating a period before a fairly even third.
The Leafs had won four of their last five coming in, winning at home against New Jersey on Friday night. This was their first loss in the back ends of four back-to-backs.
Leafs left winger James van Riemsdyk received a double minor for high sticking Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk with 1:40 left in the second period. The penalty carried over to the third and goalie James Reimer made a great save on left winger Carl Soderberg in tight before Bergeron put the rebound home for his fourth goal of the season, at 1:06 of the finale.
"Most disappointing part is that our penalty killing has been one of our strongest suits this year and we give up two power-play goals that were basically empty-net goals for the Boston hockey club," said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle. "Those are things that are correctible."
Reimer made 31 saves for Toronto, but suffered his second loss in six decisions.
"He was rock solid back there I thought," said Rask, who added, "Can't remember the goals, but I don't think he can blame himself for this loss, I thought he played a solid game."
Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid, who fought Toronto forward Frazer McLaren 1:48 into the game, left later in the period after suffering an injury to his right hip or groin. There were no updates after the game.
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NOTES: Bruins RW Jarome Iginla battled all night with old pal and former Calgary teammate Dion Phaneuf. "It's kind of like when you're younger in the schoolyard, it's fun to battle against your buddies," Iginla said. ... Some familiar faces returned to Boston this week. C Tyler Seguin and RW Rich Peverley were in with Dallas on Tuesday, G Tim Thomas was with Florida on Thursday (but didn't dress because of injury) and RW Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs were the opponent Saturday night. ... The Bruins continue their five-game homestand with Monday's holiday matinee against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which will be Military Appreciation Day with five Bruins each donating $2,500 for tickets for service personnel. ... The Leafs are at Minnesota Wednesday. ... Toronto was missing two important forwards; Cs Dave Bolland (severed ankle tendon, out indefinitely, this the second game) and C Tyler Bozak (hamstring) -- Bozak for a sixth straight game. ... Bruins C Patrice Bergeron, who capped his team's Game 7 late comeback that eliminated Toronto in the first round of the playoffs last season, said earlier Saturday, "It's one of those games that feels good to think about. The way we stayed resilient and showed character to come back and tie it and then win it."