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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins lose first game in Toronto in almost two years

John Tavares and Auston Matthews each had a pair of goals in the Toronto Maple Leafs’, 5-2, victory over the Boston Bruins Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena.

Saturday night marked Boston’s return to Canada in the regular season for the first time since the 2019-20 season due to the temporary realignment for the entire 2020-21 regular season in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Jack Campbell (6-2-1, 1.88 goals-against average, .936 save percentage in 10 games played) made 42 saves on 44 shots against in the win for the Leafs.

Meanwhile, Linus Ullmark (3-2-0, 2.60 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in five games played) stopped 31 out of 35 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins dropped to 5-4-0 (10 points) on the season and fell to 6th place in the Atlantic Division, while Toronto improved to 7-4-1 (15 points) overall and in command of 2nd place in the Atlantic.

Prior to Saturday night’s matchup, it had been 722 day since the B’s beat the Leafs, 4-2, in Toronto on Nov. 15, 2019.

Once again, Nick Foligno (upper body), Anton Blidh (upper body), Jack Studnicka and Jakub Zboril were out of the lineup for Boston, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup after Thursday night’s, 5-1, victory against the Detroit Red Wings.

A few minutes into the action, a mad scramble in front of Boston’s own net led to a great scoring chance for Morgan Rielly, whereby the Leafs defender sent a shot at a mostly open net as Ullmark dove across the crease in desperation, but Patrice Bergeron stood tall behind his goaltender and blocked the rubber biscuit from entering the open twine.

Bergeron may be in search of his fifth Frank J. Selke Trophy in his career, but he also might have just made the save of the season and could receive a vote or two towards the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender in 2021-22.

Moments later, Connor Clifton was penalized for roughing and yielded the night’s first power play to the Toronto at 5:18 of the first period.

The B’s made the kill on the ensuing infraction, however.

Maple Leafs defender, Jake Muzzin, knocked his own net off its moorings and received a delay of game minor at 8:23, presenting the Bruins with their first power play of the night.

It didn’t take Boston long to win the ensuing offensive zone faceoff, work the puck around the attacking zone from Brad Marchand to Bergeron for a one-timer that Taylor Hall (3) tipped past Campbell from point blank without any pressure in front of the net.

Bergeron (4) and Marchand (9) tallied the assists on Hall’s power-play goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 1-0, at 8:37 of the first period.

Almost four minutes later, however, Tavares (5) inadvertently redirected a shot with his leg past Ullmark that Mitchell Marner originally fired towards the net– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Marner (7) and Rielly (7) had the assists on the goal, which had briefly been reviewed before being upheld as the officials checked to make sure there was a legitimate scoring chance imminent as Bergeron bumped into Tavares, thereby knocking the net off of its pegs immediately prior to the goal at 12:21.

After one period of action in Toronto, the scoreboard was even, 1-1, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 13-9.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (6-2), takeaways (3-1) and giveaways (3-1), while both teams managed to have 10 hits each and split the faceoff winning percentage, 50-50, in the first period.

The Maple Leafs were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Leafs head coach, Sheldon Keefe, couldn’t have been too pleased early in the middle frame when his skaters botched a line change and had one too many on the ice– resulting in a bench minor for too many men 40 seconds into the second period.

This time, however, Boston’s power play was unsuccessful.

Moments later, David Pastrnak was assessed a minor for boarding as he collided with T.J. Brodie awkwardly along the boards and presented Toronto with a skater advantage at 7:34 of the second period.

The Leafs did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Late in the period, Matt Grzelcyk caught Marner with a high stick and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result at 14:35.

Toronto made quick work of the ensuing power play as Marner worked a zone entry to Tavares, who sent the puck back to Marner off of Bruins defender Derek Forbort’s stick.

While continuing to approach the slot, Marner sent a quick pass to Matthews for the shot off of Ullmark’s pad that rebounded right back to Matthews (4), who promptly pocketed the rubber biscuit in the twine under the bar to give Toronto a, 2-1, lead.

Marner (8) had the only assist on Matthews’ first goal of the night at 14:59 of the second period.

Minutes later, Marchand gave Timothy Liljegren a quick stick to the face, yielding an infraction for high sticking as a result and giving the Maple Leafs another chance on the power play at 18:03.

Once more, Matthews (5) made Boston pay with a power-play goal on a one-timer from the faceoff dot off of Ullmark’s glove and into the back of the net.

Rielly (8) and Marner (9) tabbed the assists on Matthews’ second goal of the night and the Leafs led, 3-1, at 18:54 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Maple Leafs led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 27-21, including an, 18-8, advantage in the second period alone.

Toronto also held the advantage in takeaways (5-4) and faceoff win% (55-45), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (12-5), giveaways (12-4) and hits (20-16).

The Maple Leafs were 2/4 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage after two periods.

Tavares hooked Pastrnak 32 seconds into the third period, but the Bruins were not successful on the ensuing power play.

Instead, shortly after emerging from the penalty box, Tavares (6) slipped a rebound under Ullmark to give Toronto a, 4-1, lead at 2:53 of the third period.

William Nylander (5) and Rasmus Sandin (4) had the assists on Tavares’ second goal of the game.

Almost midway through the final frame, Pastrnak (3) rocketed a one-timer through Campbell’s six-hole after Marchand entered the zone, cut in and fed Pastrnak for the goal.

Marchand (10) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal and the Bruins trailed, 4-2, at 8:29 of the third period.

Michael Bunting tripped Clifton at 15:44, but Boston couldn’t take advantage of the resulting skater advantage.

With 1:43 remaining in the game, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but things did not go as he planned as Marner (3) quickly pocketed an empty net goal to extend Toronto’s lead to three-goals once again.

Tavares (6) and Alexander Kerfoot (4) tallied the assists on Marner’s empty net goal at 19:17 of the third period and at the final horn the Leafs had won, 5-2.

The Maple Leafs finished Saturday night’s action leading in blocked shots (16-13), as well as in faceoff win% (51-49), while the B’s exited Scotiabank Arena with the advantage in shots on goal (44-36), including a, 23-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also wrapped the night up leading in giveaways (15-11) and hits (32-22).

Toronto went 2/4 and Boston went 1/4 on the power play in Saturday night’s, 5-2, win for the Maple Leafs.

The B’s fell to 5-2-0 (1-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 0-2-0 (0-2-0 on the road) when tied after one period and 0-3-0 (0-3-0 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, rose to 4-3-1 (3-1-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-2-0 (2-1-0 at home) when tied after the first period and 4-0-0 (4-0-0 at home) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return to TD Garden for a two-game homestand next Tuesday and Thursday against the Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers, respectively, prior to going to New Jersey next Saturday for a road game against the Devils.

Boston hosts the Montréal Canadiens for the first time since the 2019-20 season on Nov. 14th.

By Nick Lanciani

I have a degree in communication and yet I cannot find the words for this bio. Anyway, I write stuff on Down the Frozen River, make/appear on podcasts, used to write stuff for Couch Guy Sports and apply to jobs for a living when I'm not painting something cool to distract myself from my unemployment.