By Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter @adbblue
The Boston Bruins improved to 9-0-1 after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in a shootout at TD Garden Thursday night. Boston was down three of their regular defensemen and required the services of Mason Lohrei, who made his NHL debut.
It was a tremendous hockey game, with both teams trading chances all night. The two long-time Division rivals constantly had the fans on the edge of their seats.
The first period was very even, back-and-forth hockey. Both teams traded chances generated from the point right off the bat. The Bruins were the first team to establish a fore-check, but Toronto used their high-end speed to create their own opportunities.
The Bruins were solid defensively, other than a few times when the Leafs got behind Boston’s defense and set up shop in the attacking zone. The Bruins responded with a Pavel Zacha goal just before the final minute of the period. Mason Lohrei moved the puck over to Brandon Carlo, who put it right on the tape of Zacha for the tap-in goal to make it 1-0. Danton Heinen also made a great diving play to get the puck to Lohrei, who picked up his first career NHL point on the goal.
The 22-year-old briefly touched on his debut after the game. “Felt pretty good; just tried to keep it simple.” Head coach Jim Montgomery was impressed with the young defenseman’s game. “He was dynamite. He played really well. His poise with the puck was noticeable in all three zones.” Jermy Swayman was sound between the pipes, making 12 saves in the opening frame. Boston led in the shot department 14 to 12, but it was a level opening period.
The Bruins had a hot start to the second period, creating a chance off the rush on the opening shift from the top line. They kept things going when Jake DeBrusk and Brad Marchand had a spectacular give-and-go, which DeBrusk finished off for his first goal of the season.
That made it 2-0 less than two minutes into the second frame. Boston then had a chance to extend the lead on a great pass by Lohrei that sprung Zacha in alone, but Samsonov denied him. The Leafs got some momentum and scored directly after that on a Mitch Marner goal that made it 2-1.
A minute and three seconds later, it was Auston Matthews who beat Swayman on a top-shelf wrister to tie the game 2-2. Toronto brought their skating game in the middle stanza and outshot the Bruins 14-11.
There was no scoring in the third period, but it was arguably the most entertaining of the night. Both teams traded high-danger scoring chances, and both goaltenders stood tall.
The Bruins poured it on late in the third and put all sorts of pressure on Toronto. They had plenty of grade-A chances but couldn’t find the back of the net. The penalty kill remained strong as well, yet again killing off both minors they took.
After ending the third period in a 2-2 tie, the teams headed to overtime. Boston had a power-play opportunity in the OT period but did not convert, and it went to a shootout.
Boston elected to Shoot first, and Jake DeBrusk beat Samsonov top shelf on his signature move, which he talked about postgame. “I think it gives goalies fits because you come in with speed left to right, which gives you options on the backhand, and if my bread and butter’s there, I’m gonna hit it, but if not, I have time to switch.” Charlie Coyle tucked one by Samsonov as well, and Swayman turned aside both Tortono shooters to seal the victory. The Bruins netminder was lights out, making 33 saves on the night.
The Black and Gold earned seven out of a possible eight points on their four-game home stand. The team will next head on the road and play the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at 7:00 p.m