The Toronto Maple Leafs had a, 4-1, lead in the second period at TD Garden and… …actually went on to win, 6-4, against the Boston Bruins Tuesday night.
Ten different Leafs players recorded at least a point while Erik Källgren picked up the win in relief of Petr Mrazek, who left the game almost midway through the first period with an injury.
Källgren (3-2-1, 2.65 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in six games played) made 23 saves on 26 shots against for the win in relief of Mrazek (12-6-0, 3.34 goals-against average, .888 save percentage in 20 games played), who stopped three out of four shots faced in 7:44 time on ice prior to being injured.
Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (19-9-3, 2.24 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in 32 games played) made 19 saves on 25 shots against in the loss before he was replaced by Linus Ullmark (20-9-2, 2.70 goals-against average, .909 save percentage in 33 games played), who turned aside all seven shots in relief for no decision.
The Maple Leafs improved to 42-19-5 (89 points) on the season and remain in command of 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, while Boston fell to 41-20-5 (87 points) overall and stuck in 4th place in the Atlantic.
The B’s also fell to 0-2-0 against Toronto this season with one matchup remaining in their regular season series on April 29th at Scotiabank Arena.
Boston went 2-0-1 against the Leafs in 2019-20.
Jakub Zboril (right ACL) was the only injured Bruin out of the lineup against Toronto on Tuesday as the defender remains out for the rest of the season since sustaining an injury back on Dec. 2nd in Nashville.
Meanwhile, Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lines and defensive pairings for the third straight game, rendering Mike Reilly, Jack Studnicka, Marc McLaughlin, Josh Brown and Anton Blidh as healthy scratches.
Given the nature of the blowout against the Leafs, it’s very likely that either Reilly or Brown will see some action against New Jersey on Thursday.
Connor Clifton misfired a pass towards Matt Grzelcyk before Jason Spezza intercepted the errant puck and worked it to the slot whereby Colin Blackwell (9) redirected it on a backhand from point blank to give the Maple Leafs a, 1-0, lead at 5:09 of the first period.
Spezza (11) had the only assist on the goal.
Less than a minute later, Michael Bunting tripped up Hampus Lindholm at 5:47, yielding the night’s first power play to the Bruins.
It didn’t take long on the skater advantage for Boston to even up the score, 1-1, courtesy of a David Pastrnak (38) power-play goal special on a one-timer that deflected off of T.J. Brodie’s stick and past Mrazek after Pastrnak initially rang the crossbar seconds prior.
Patrice Bergeron (30) and Charlie McAvoy (35) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as the B’s tied things up, 1-1, at 5:59 of the first period.
Meanwhile, Mrazek skated off and went down the tunnel and would not return to the night’s action with an injury.
Leafs head coach, Sheldon Keefe, replaced his starter with Källgren and the period continued without much else going wrong for Toronto.
Bunting and Craig Smith exchanged pleasantries and unsportsmanlike conduct minors, yielding 4-on-4 action at 8:34 of the opening frame as a result.
About a minute later, William Nylander drove to the net with speed and made his way around Brandon Carlo before setting up Morgan Rielly (8) for a goal on the rebound after Swayman couldn’t square up to the shot on the near post.
Nylander (36) and John Tavares (40) tallied the assists on Rielly’s goal and the Leafs took a, 2-1, lead at 9:43 of the first period as a result.
Late in the period, Pastrnak was penalized for boarding as he checked Rielly along the wall at 16:09.
This time, however, there were no goals within the ensuing specials teams action, but Toronto caught Boston in the vulnerable minute afterwards anyway.
Alexander Kerfoot (11) blocked a shot in his own zone and broke free on a breakaway as he raced the other way before going backhand-forehand around Swayman’s right pad on an unassisted effort to give the Maple Leafs a, 3-1, lead at 18:44.
After one period, Toronto led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 11-10, in shots on goal.
The Leafs also held the advantage in takeaways (4-1) and faceoff win percentage (55-45), while the Bruins led in giveaways (4-2) and hits (17-8).
Both teams had two blocked shots each, while Toronto went 0/1 and the B’s went 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Ilya Lyubushkin kicked things off in the middle period with an interference infraction at 6:00 of the second period.
The Bruins didn’t convert on the ensuing power play, however.
Once more, Boston was caught in the vulnerable minute after special teams action– even though they had just been on the skater advantage.
The B’s failed to muster anything in the attacking zone and struggled to get out of their own end, while Bunting made an interception around the neutral zone, setting up Auston Matthews for a quick pass to Mitchell Marner (28) for a one-timer goal from one knee– giving the Leafs a, 4-1, lead as a result.
Matthews (36) and Bunting (31) had the assists on Marner’s goal at 8:28 of the second period.
About five minutes later, Charlie Coyle and Spezza went to the box for holding the stick and hooking, respectively, rendering a couple more minutes of 4-on-4 action at 13:12.
A few seconds after the two teams resumed 5-on-5 play, Lyubushkin hit checked Taylor Hall from behind, resulting in a bit of retaliation from Hall– earning the latter a roughing minor, while Lyubushkin ended up going down the tunnel.
Hall may face supplemental discipline depending on if the league views his response as a sucker punch or not.
Regardless, Hall cut a rut to the sin bin at 15:18 and the Leafs scored on the resulting power play at 16:00 of the second period as Matthews (49) hit the back of the twine with Tavares (41) and Marner (48) picking up the assists.
Toronto had a, 5-1, lead and extended it to, 6-1, 47 seconds after Matthews’ goal on a shot from the point by Rielly that had eyes and deflected off of David Kämpf (9) past Swayman.
Rielly (46) had the only assist as the Maple Leafs took a five-goal lead at 16:47 of the second period.
Despite a brief cross check after the goal, Clifton evaded any further action.
Late in the period, McAvoy riffled the puck towards the slot whereby Jake DeBrusk (17) redirected the rubber biscuit with his right leg past Källgren while gliding towards the net.
As it wasn’t a distinct kicking motion, DeBrusk’s goal went unchallenged by Keefe, nor the on-ice officials, while McAvoy (36) and Brad Marchand (38) picked up the assists as the Bruins trailed, 6-2, at 18:19.
Less than a minute later, McAvoy and Bunting each received unsportsmanlike conduct minors for… …perceived rising temperatures on the ice?
Regardless, the two teams were skating at 4-on-4 once more at 18:44 of the second period.
As the horn signaled the end of two periods, Marchand cross checked a Leafs skater on his way off the ice and exchanged some words with an on-ice official that ultimately deemed he had gone a step too far– assessing No. 63 in black and gold a 10-minute misconduct at 20:00 of the second period.
Through 40 minutes of action, Toronto led, 6-2, on the scoreboard and, 25-19, in shots on goal– including a, 14-9, advantage in the middle frame alone.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (5-3), giveaways (10-3), hits (27-19) and faceoff win% (51-49), while the Maple Leafs held the advantage in takeaways (6-2).
Both teams were 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.
Cassidy replaced his starting goaltender in Swayman with Ullmark to begin the third period, while the Maple Leafs announced that Justin Holl and Lyubushkin would not be returning to the night’s action– about 40 minutes after they already announced Mrazek’s departure for the night.
Early in the final frame, Marner tripped McAvoy at 6:29 of the third period.
Boston’s resulting power play was cut short when Erik Haula tripped Nylander at 8:20, but at least the Bruins’ penalty kill managed to kill off Haula’s infraction without issue.
Midway through the third period, Curtis Lazar (7) pocketed a carom off the endboards past Källgren’s short side to bring the Bruins to within three goals.
Clifton (6) and Tomáš Nosek (12) tallied the assists on Lazar’s goal and the B’s trailed, 6-3, at 13:02 of the third period as No. 20 for Boston established a career-high in goals.
Moments later, Hall (15) drove to the net and clipped Källgren’s stick with his right leg as the puck trickled through the Leafs netminder’s five-hole, but the would-be goal was immediately washed out.
Cassidy used a coach’s challenge and upon review, the call on the ice was overturned as it had not been sufficient incidental contact to interfere with Källgren’s ability to make a save, thereby rendering it a good goal.
Pastrnak (30) and Derek Forbort (7) had the assists on Hall’s goal and the Bruins trailed, 6-4, at 17:38 of the third period as a result.
With 1:54 remaining in the action, Ullmark vacated the crease for an extra attacker, but Boston wasn’t able to get anything else past Källgren as the Bruins struggled to setup dominant possession in the attacking zone.
At the final horn, Toronto had won, 6-4, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 32-30, despite trailing, 11-7, in shots on net in the third period alone.
The Maple Leafs exited TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (8-5), while the Bruins left their own ice leading in giveaways (12-6), hits (35-27) and faceoff win% (53-47).
Both teams went 1/3 on the power play on Tuesday, as Boston fell to 11-13-3 (7-7-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 5-13-2 (4-7-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 4-15-2 (3-9-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.
Toronto improved to 29-6-2 (15-5-2 on the road) when scoring first, 26-3-2 (12-3-2 on the road) when leading after one and 31-1-2 (15-0-2 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.
The Bruins wrap up the month of March and begin April by hosting the New Jersey Devils on Thursday and Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday– rounding out their five-game homestand (2-1-0) in the process.