By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
Coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Nashville Predators, the Bruins looked to rebound with a win against their division foes, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The last time these two teams met was February 15th at T.D Garden. Toronto upset the Bruins 4-3 off a late miraculous Mikhail Grabovski goal. Since Toronto was sitting just four points behind for a playoff spot, this was an important game for them. This would be the first time recently acquired Tomas Kaberle was going against his former team.
Tim Thomas would return as the starting goaltender after a couple of games rest, and on the other side of the ice Toronto’s starting goaltender would be James Reimer. Boston was still without Steven Kampfer and Brad Marchand as he was serving the second game of his two-game suspension. Toronto would be without Colby Armstrong, Jonas Gustavsson, Mike Komisarek, and Jay Rosehill.
Toronto up after 1
The first period started, and it was a fairly even contest. The Bruins first scoring chance came at the 14:38 mark when Rich Peverly fired a wrist shot from the right-circle between James Reimer’s legs, and the puck almost sneaked in. A minute later, Toronto would go on the first powerplay of the night due to Michael Ryder getting a Delay of Game penalty. Toronto got a couple of shots on the net, but Boston was able to kill off the penalty. Seconds before the halfway mark of the period, Luke Schenn skated the puck past the blue line and snuck the puck between Tim Thomas’s pads to give Toronto an early 1-0 lead.
Boston started putting pressure on James Reimer, and two minutes later, Adam McQuaid shot the puck off Dion Phaneuf’s skate, and it went in; the game was tied at 1. Toronto wouldn’t go away, though, as just 40 seconds later, Nazem Kadri slap-shotted the puck past Thomas’s pad and put Toronto back on top 2-1. The last seven minutes quickly came and went, and Toronto was on top 2-1 heading into the intermission. Even though Boston was outshooting Toronto 11-9, Toronto managed to take advantage of their chances; James Reimer was also looking on point.
Toronto Continues to Dominate Boston
Boston started the second period with unbelievable chances, one of those chances was a Tyler Seguin breakaway that was stuffed by James Reimer’s pads just two minutes into the period. At the 16:41 mark, Boston went on its first powerplay of the night and looked to tie the game up. Other than a couple of shots from Seguin and Kaberle, Toronto was able to kill the penalty off, and it was back to even strength. Four minutes later, just as Toronto began putting pressure on Boston, Joey Crabb was able to put one past Tim Thomas, and Toronto was up 3-1. 29 seconds later, Boston just couldn’t get their footing, and Mike Brown shot one five-hole on Thomas, and it was now 4-1 Toronto.
After that, Claude Julien decided to pull Tim Thomas from the net and put in Tuukka Rask. Thomas had allowed 4 goals on 14 shots. Boston’s night kept getting worse as the period continued; with 2:37 remaining in the period Keith Aulie lined up a wrist shot from the blue line and put it behind Rask. It was not 5-1 Toronto…The second-period horn shortly sounded, and Boston’s nightmare period was finally over. Even though Boston outshot Toronto again in the period, Toronto was able to take care of chances and some horrendous goaltending by Boston. It was going to take a miracle third period for Boston to come back.
As Boston tried to make a miraculous comeback in the third period, they would get an early powerplay opportunity 5:42 into the period when Toronto’s Mike Brown was called for Goaltender Interference. Just like Boston’s overall night, the powerplay was underachieving, and Toronto was still up 5-1. With Boston not being able to get anything going and their anger boiling over, Nathan Horton dropped the gloves with Dion Phaneuf. Both went to the locker room as the game was eight minutes away from being over. As garbage time rapidly approached, Daniel Paille got one behind James Reimer, and it was 5-2. The game quickly wrapped up, and Toronto was able to run Boston out of the Air Canada Centre.
On to New Jersey…
After a dismal performance by the Boston Bruins, they looked to flip the script on March 22nd when they returned to home ice to face the New Jersey Devils. The Devils were also in the hunt for the final playoff spot, so this wasn’t going to be an easy affair for the Bruins. Moving on from this game, if the Bruins wanted to win games in the playoffs, their goaltending would have to be much better, and they must convert on more scoring chances. The three stars of the night were James Reimer, Joey Crabb, and Nazem Kadri.