By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
With 17 games left before the playoffs, the Bruins skated into Toronto and looked to end a two-game skid. Boston was sitting around the top of the Eastern Conference, while Toronto was scraping at a Wild Card spot. Bruins forward Daniel Paille would miss his second straight game because of an upper-body injury. Due to a lower-body injury, Andrew Ference was out for a third consecutive game. Tim Thomas was making his fourth consecutive start in net while Toronto was going with Jonas Gustavsson between the pipes. So Bruins fans, let’s rewind the clock and look back at this day in Bruins history.
Tied One Apiece After 20 Minutes
The game was on, and Toronto made sure to get on the board early. 3:01 into the first, Carl Gunnarson scored his third goal of the season and put Toronto up 1-0. The Bruins attempted to tie the game throughout the next ten minutes of first-period action. Finally, at the 13:58 mark, Jordan Caron put Boston on the board. After Seidenberg’s slapshot went wide, Pouliot squeaked a pass to Caron in front of Gustavsson, and Caron shoveled the puck in to make it 1-1. The final six minutes ticked away, and after twenty minutes played, it was tied one apiece. Boston outshot Toronto 12-7 in the first period.
Tempers Flare in Exciting Second Period
Second-period action was underway, and 31 seconds in Boston was shorthanded after Marchand was whistled for hooking. An early powerplay opportunity for Toronto to try and take the lead. 26 seconds into the powerplay, Toronto retook the lead. John Michael-Liles rebounded Kessel’s initial shot off Thomas, and Liles capitalized to make it 2-1 Toronto. However, when Toronto thought they were going to pull away, the Bruins didn’t like the sound of that. Just 1:05 after Toronto scored, Chara deked around a defender, sent a shot to the net, and Seguin tipped the puck in. The Bruins didn’t stop there; 41 seconds later, Chris Kelly scored his 16th goal of the season with assists going to Jordan Caron and Benoit Pouliot. A great response for the Bruins to go back up 3-2. After Boston scored two goals in 41 seconds to retake the lead, Jay Rosehill and Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves at center ice. Both combatants dropped multiple punches on each other and were assessed fighting majors.
Fast forward six minutes into the second period, and both teams were going at it again—this time between Colby Armstrong and Dennis Seidenberg. Seidenberg landed repetitive right-hand blows to Armstrong and won the fight decisively. Before the fight, though, Adam McQuaid was called for roughing, and after everything settled, Toronto was back on the powerplay. Twenty seconds into the man advantage for Toronto, Bergeron tripped a Maple Leaf, and Toronto had a 5-on-3 powerplay for 1:40. With 44 seconds left on the 5-on-3 powerplay, former Bruin Phil Kessel scored the tying goal to make it 3-3. Again though, the Bruins did a fantastic job responding to Toronto, and Jordan Caron scored his second goal of the night. Zdeno Chara sent a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Caron in front of the net, and Caron buried it. The goal came just under four minutes after Kessel’s goal, and Boston had a 4-3 lead.
With just over six minutes to go in a wild second period, the Bruins looked to extend the lead and put Toronto in the rearview mirror. With 3:51 remaining in the period, Tyler Seguin ripped a slapshot by Gustavsson and extended Boston’s lead to 5-3. It was Seguin’s second goal of the night with assists going to Milan Lucic and Greg Zanon. As the period was coming to a close, it was clear Toronto’s frustration was growing. Brett Connoly unnecessarily cross-checked Brad Marchand as the horn sounded, leading to a quick fight that left Connoly flipping Marchand. That said, the period was over, and Boston was taking a 5-3 lead into the final twenty minutes.
Boston Holds Off Toronto, Win 5-4
The third period opened up with Boston on the powerplay after Brett Connoly’s actions on Brad Marchand. However, Boston couldn’t convert on the powerplay, and it was still 5-3. After Matthew Lombardi was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, the Bruins would get another powerplay opportunity four minutes later. Lombardi sprayed snow on Thomas after Thomas covered up the puck, and the refs didn’t like that. In another great chance to make it 6-3, the Bruins couldn’t score on the man-advantage, meaning it was still just a 5-3 lead. Fast forward to the 13-minute mark of the period, and Toronto managed to cut Boston’s lead to one. Mikhail Grabovski found himself wide open on a breakaway and sailed a wrist shot by Thomas’s glove to cut Boston’s lead to 5-4. The home crowd for Toronto was getting into it, and the Maple Leafs had momentum.
Two minutes later, after Grabovksi’s goal, Zdeno Chara was called for boarding, giving Toronto a new opportunity to tie the game while on the man advantage. However, the Bruins penalty kill unit did a good job killing off the penalty, and it was back to even strength for the final three minutes. Just 75 seconds remained in the game, and Toronto pulled its goalie for the extra man. While desperately trying to tie the game, Toronto found itself on the man-advantage once again with 17 seconds left. Chris Kelly was called for a Delay-of-Game penalty, which could end up costly for Boston. Since Toronto was already in the attacking zone, they kept Gustavsson pulled, so it was technically 6-on-4 for 17 seconds. Bergeron won the faceoff, Seidenberg cleared the puck, and Boston held on for the final 17 seconds to win 5-4.
What a thrilling game! A second period that contained six goals scored, three fights, and a near game-ending comeback for Toronto. Nonetheless, the Bruins improved to 39-23-3 while Toronto dropped to 30-29-7. Boston hoped to get a winning streak going on March 8th when they would host the Buffalo Sabres.