David Krejci (1-1–2 totals) surpassed Cam Neely for 10th place in the Boston Bruins all-time scoring list with his 591st and 592nd career points with Boston in Saturday night’s, 6-3, victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
Jaroslav Halak (9-4-2, 2.30 goals against average, .930 save percentage in 17 games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against for a .906 SV% in the win for the Bruins, while Frederik Andersen (16-8-0, 2.50 GAA, .926 SV% in 24 GP) made 22 saves on 28 shots faced (.786 SV%) in 46:10 time on ice in the loss.
Garret Sparks (4-1-1, 2.84 GAA, .913 SV% in seven GP) replaced Andersen almost midway through the third period for Toronto and turned aside all four shots he faced in the remaining 13:47 TOI.
Boston improved to 15-10-4 (34 points) on the season and leapt back over the Montreal Canadiens for 4th place in the Atlantic Division and the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Maple Leafs fell to 20-9-1 (41 points) on the season and remain 2nd in the Atlantic Division– six points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the division lead.
With the win on Saturday, the Bruins are now 1-3-0 in the month of December and are being outscored, 15-10, in that four-game span.
Bruce Cassidy informed reporters prior to Saturday night’s matchup that Jake DeBrusk will miss the weekend’s games at home and in Ottawa as the young Bruins forward has “not [been] feeling well.”
DeBrusk had taken a puck to the back of the head on a shot from his own teammate on Nov. 26th in Toronto, which might be contributing to his current ailment, though it was not confirmed.
As a result of DeBrusk’s injury, Cassidy indicated Saturday night would mark Gemel Smith’s debut (and home debut) as a Bruin.
With DeBrusk out of the equation on the second line, Cassidy juggled the lines to keep Brad Marchand, Krejci and David Pastrnak together on the first line and Colby Cave centering Danton Heinen and David Backes to round out the top-six forwards.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson started the game on the third line between Ryan Donato and Joakim Nordstrom, while Smith slid in on the left side of Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner.
On defense, Torey Krug was paired with Brandon Carlo on the top defensive pair, with Matt Grzelcyk alongside his Boston University teammate, Charlie McAvoy.
John Moore and Steven Kampfer filled out the bottom defensive pairing for the Bruins with Halak getting the start in goal and Tuukka Rask likely to play Sunday in Ottawa.
Noel Acciari and Jeremy Lauzon were healthy scratches on Saturday, joining Zdeno Chara (lower body, left MCL), Patrice Bergeron (upper body), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion) and Kevan Miller (throat) in the press box.
McAvoy was penalized 13 seconds into the game for cross checking Maple Leafs forward, Mitch Marner, and the Leafs went on the power play for the first time of the night.
Toronto did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Both teams continued to trade chances until midway in the first period when Krejci and Jake Gardiner got tangled up and received matching roughing minors at 10:07.
While on the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Pastrnak sent a shot towards the goal for Forsbacka Karlsson to redirect, but Andersen made the initial save– that is, until he let up a rebound, which Forsbacka Karlsson (3) followed up on and poked the puck through the Maple Leafs goaltender to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
Pastrnak (13) and Grzelcyk (8) had the assists on the goal at 11:20 of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, Boston held onto a 1-0 lead, while Toronto led in shots on goal, 11-8. The Leafs also led in blocked shots (6-3), takeaways (13-3) and hits (11-8), meanwhile the B’s had the advantage in giveaways (4-2) and face-off win percentage (56-44).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play.
Tyler Ennis kicked the action off in the second period with a tripping infraction as Smith went down to the ice at 6:14 of the middle frame. Boston couldn’t convert on the power play, but got a second chance on the skater advantage in the same period about 20 seconds after the first advantage expired.
Nazem Kadri caught Krejci with a stick and brought the veteran Bruins forward down at 8:34 and the Bruins went back on the power play.
Just 20 seconds into the ensuing advantage, Backes (3) fired a wrist shot past Andersen’s glove side to give the B’s a two-goal lead, 2-0, at 8:54 of the second period.
This, of course, after a mad scramble that led to Marchand (18) and Krug (13) being credited with the primary and secondary assists.
John Tavares was guilty of slashing Gryzelcyk at 10:06, but the 5-on-4 power play for Boston wouldn’t last long as Backes hooked Maple Leafs defender, Nikita Zaitsev at 11:02.
For the next 1:05, both teams would play 4-on-4 action– at least, until Gardiner boarded Krejci at 11:33 of the second period and sent the B’s on a rare 4-on-3 power play for 34 seconds.
As the string of soft calls started winding down, tempers started to flare on the ice.
Before long, Carlo and Nazem Kadri were at each other’s throats after a stoppage in play, which led to the exchanging of fisticuffs at 14:32.
The fight was just the 2nd fighting major of the season for the Maple Leafs, while it was both Kadri and Carlo’s first fight of the season.
Recently traded to the Vancouver Canucks, forward Josh Leivo had the other fight for Toronto this season, while Carlo was involved in just the third fight of his young career (about one-a-season, so far).
Toronto began a short onslaught, but Halak stood tall and momentum swung Boston’s way as the Bruins sustained some attacking zone time and capitalized with a goal from the point.
Krug (1) wired a wrist shot past Andersen for his first goal of the season– and first goal in 25 games– to give the Bruins a three-goal lead.
Marchand (19) and Krejci (18) picked up the assists to make it, 3-0, Boston at 17:45 of the second period, marking the first time since Nov. 24th (against the Montreal Canadiens) that the B’s had tallied at least three goals in a game.
With his assist on the play, Krejci officially surpassed Neely for 10th place on the all-time scoring list in Bruins franchise history. Krejci would add another point in the form of a goal in the third period to further pull away from the current Bruins president’s historical marker of 590 career points with Boston.
Krejci now has 592 and counting.
After 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 23-20, after outshooting the Maple Leafs, 15-9, in the second period alone.
Toronto led in blocked shots (7-5) and takeaways (23-7) through two periods, while the B’s dominated in giveaways (7-3), hits (19-17) and face-off win% (52-48)
The Maple Leafs were 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission and the Bruins were 1/4.
Heinen (3) kicked off a chaotic third period with his first point in 12 games in the form of a goal at 1:47 into the final frame of regulation.
Donato (1) and Moore (4) tallied the assists and the Bruins led, 4-0.
Moments later, Travis Dermott (2) wired a back-footed snap shot from the point past Halak, high-glove side at 4:03 of the third period to put Toronto on the scoreboard, 4-1.
Auston Matthews (10) and Gardiner (14) had the assists on Dermott’s goal and the Leafs cut the lead to three.
A mere, 34 seconds later, Krejci (4) collected his second goal in two games on a rush and a give-and-go with Pastrnak to make it, 5-1, Boston.
Pastrnak (14) and Marchand (20) were tabbed with the assists at 4:37.
Less than two minutes later, Donato (3) added a goal while being held by Matthews in front of the net and pounding his own rebound behind Andersen to make it, 6-1, Bruins.
Heinen (4) and Krug (14) had the assists at 6:13 of the third period and Mike Babcock replaced his starting goaltender with Sparks.
Andersen’s night was done after allowing six goals.
But the zany game on ice has its ways as Matthews (16) riffled a shot past Halak after Andreas Johnsson freed a loose puck from Carlo to Matthews to make it, 6-2.
Johnsson (6) and Morgan Reilly (23) had the assists on the goal that made it a four-goal game at 9:30 of the third period.
Then, 23 seconds later, Zach Hyman delivered a high, late hit, with the elbow to McAvoy behind the play and Grzelcyk, along with the rest of the Bruins took notice.
Grzelcyk immediately challenged Hyman in effort to standup for his teammate who had just returned this week from a concussion and the two exchanged blows.
The penalty minutes officially read, Grzelcyk (fighting, major) and a game misconduct at 9:53, while Hyman received a fighting major, a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.
Despite Hyman’s interference major, the Bruins were not given a power play advantage.
This, coupled with soft calls and blown calls from 13 seconds into the game through this point in the third period led to chaos.
Barely a minute later in playing time, Wagner glided into a high hit on Patrick Marleau in the neutral zone.
Toronto defender, Ron Hainsey, immediately challenged the Bruins winger to a duel of fists and the two squared off with Wagner getting the wrestling takedown.
Only Wagner was officially penalized, however, with a minor penalty for charging and a misconduct at 10:55 of the third period.
As a result, the Bruins would be shorthanded and neither bench was very pleased. Both coaches were furious, but the game continued as the refs failed to contain the emotions of the game.
Donato served Wagner’s minor penalty, but it wasn’t long before Johnsson (7) capitalized on a deflection that yielded a rebound and collected a power play goal at 12:22.
Marleau (10) and Gardiner (15) had the assists and the Leafs trailed, 6-3.
With about two minutes remaining in regulation, McAvoy returned to the Bruins bench after going through concussion protocol.
At the final horn, Boston had defeated Toronto, 6-3, and improved to 10-2-2 when scoring first this season.
Both teams finished the night with 32 shots on goal, while the B’s led in blocked shots (13-8), giveaways (12-9) and hits (24-21). The Maple Leafs finished Saturday night ahead in face-off win% (53-47) and were 1/2 on the power play, while Boston was 1/4.
The Bruins and Maple Leafs will meet once more this season in Toronto on January 12, 2019.
Until then, Boston travels to Canadian Tire Centre for a Sunday matinee (5 p.m. ET puck drop) with the Ottawa Senators before traveling back home for a Tuesday night matchup with the Arizona Coyotes.
The Bruins follow up Tuesday’s matchup with another rumble on the road at PPG Paints Arena next Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.