(Photo Credit: Kathryn Riley-USA TODAY Sports)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Boston Bruins
Away: Toronto Maple Leafs
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Coyle – Ritchie
Heinen – Lindholm – Backes
Bjork – Kuraly – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Clifton
Johnsson – Matthews – Marner
Mikheyev – Kerfoot – Nylander
Moore – Gauthier – Kapanen
Timashov – Shore – Petan
Rielly – Ceci
Muzzin – Barrie
Gravel – Holl
Anders Bjork’s time has come, at least for a little while. That and more in round two against the Toronto Maple Leafs, this time at TD Garden to complete the home and home series. Last Saturday, the Bruins lost 4-3 in OT to the Leafs. So, redemption was on their collective brain. David Krejci (upper-body) is now on IR, and Karson Kuhlman (leg) and Joakim Nordstrom (foot) were out with injuries of their own. Tuukka Rask’s 500th career game was as good of a game as ever to get the redemption they craved.
A risky pass at the offensive blue line from Brandon Carlo to Torey Krug ended up on William Nylander’s stick. Nylander hit another gear, but Tuukka Rask thwarted it with the glove to deny the first high-danger chance of the game.
Just around four minutes in, David Pastrnak went down awkwardly in a puck battle with Cody Ceci. He went to the bench in some pain, and just after that, Krug interfered with Frederik Gauthier, leading to them getting in each other’s faces and Krug sitting for two minutes.
At the conclusion of the unsuccessful Toronto power play, Brandon Carlo jumpstarted a 3-on-1 that nearly produced a goal for Krug right out of the box 4:03 into the period. Some good back-and-forth play ensued before David Pastrnak nearly became the first player in the NHL to hit double-digit goals. He had his tenth of the season, but it was called back for offsides. This nullified goal marked the third of the season for the Bruins already.
As the period neared its conclusion more and more, Andreas Johnsson went to the box for hooking with 3:34 to go. The sizzling hot Bruins power play stayed hot as Pastrnak spun and snuck and a through the legs shot through Michael Hutchinson and in.
“Fool me once, shame on you,” said David Pastrnak, probably. Pastrnak’s league-leading tenth goal was assisted by Brad Marchand (9) and Krug (6), as was the first goal, before it was called off. The shots in the period were 12-10 Bruins, and the late goal provided a huge potential springboard for momentum. Watch as Pastrnak scored, confirmed that that one counted, and hit a huge career milestone below.
Score: 1-0 Boston
Despite a decent start to the period, Toronto responded in the form of a Kasperi Kapanen one-timer that made its way past Rask to tie the game. It didn’t take too long for the Bruins to respond. Pastrnak can do it all, as he made a sweet no-look pass to find an open Marchand for his fifth goal of the season. Pastrnak (7) and Charlie McAvoy (2) had the helpers.
The Leafs made no mistake on the power play after Zdeno Chara went off for tripping 11:40 into the period. Alex Kerfoot’s high-slot one-timer tied the game at two. Up to this point, it was another great matchup with the Leafs, as expected.
Morgan Rielly took Sean Kuraly down as he cut to the net and was slapped with two minutes in the box for it – giving the Bruins another power play with 4:06 to go. No dice, and the score remained tied at two. That’s how the second-period ended as well. The shots were narrowly in favor of the Bruins at 13-12 (25-22 Bruins total). The win was for the taking heading into the third.
The Leafs came out flying early, testing Rask twice in the first minute. Jake DeBrusk then flew down the left-wing on the next shift and nearly connected with Brett Ritchie across the crease. Things slowed down a bit until Marchand was robbed by Hutchinson in a desperation effort to regain his ground in his crease.
Brett Ritchie made good on banging home a loose puck in the slot to put the Bruins ahead, shortly after the Marchand chance. This goal doesn’t happen without Charlie Coyle. An excellent play by Coyle to hold his back foot at the blue line and remain onside as he approached a loose puck was huge from the start of the goal-scoring sequence. Ritchie’s second of the season was assisted by DeBrusk (2). DeBrusk and Ritchie connect after failing to convert on a 2-on-1 earlier in the period.
After the Ritchie goal, the forechecking and ability to establish offensive zone pressure looked better than at times in the first two periods. Things got dicey though when Kuraly inadvertently high-sticked Andreas Johnsson with just around four minutes to go – he went off for two minutes and the Leafs had a golden opportunity to tie the game.
Following the first whistle during the power play, the Leafs called a timeout. Marchand forced a huge turnover against Rielly late in the power play, proving instrumental in eventually killing the penalty.
Kuraly didn’t waste much time out of the box, as he broke into the offensive zone on his off-wing and Par Lindholm buried the rebound that he produced. Lindholm’s first as a Bruin, against one of his former teams, proved to be the dagger in the end and was assisted by Kuraly (3).
Things got hectic after the Lindholm goal when Marchand went to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct with just 1:55 to go. It didn’t matter. The shots were 14-8 Bruins (39-30 Bruins total) and Rask made 28 saves in his 500th game. The Bruins are 6-1-2. Next up are the St. Louis Blues on Saturday at TD Garden 7:00 PM ET.