After defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night, the Boston Bruins are 8-3-0 in their last 11 games– including five straight wins from their starting goaltender, Tuukka Rask.
David Pastrnak scored the game-winning goal in the final minute of the second period as Sean Kuraly had his first career three-point night with a goal and two assists in his fourth career multi-point game.
Rask (13-8-2 record, 2.41 goals against average, .921 save percentage in 23 games played) made 30 saves on 32 shots against for a .921 SV% in the win for the Bruins, while Michael Hutchinson (3-4-2, 3.27 GAA, .887 SV% in nine GP) stopped 26 out of 29 shots faced for an .897 SV% in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 16-3-2 when scoring first this season and beat Toronto in their season series, 3-1-0, outscoring the Leafs, 16-10, in that span. Boston also improved to 26-14-4 (56 points) on the season and remained in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division.
The Maple Leafs fell to 28-14-2 (58 points) so far this season and continue to hold a two-point lead over the Bruins for 2nd place in the Atlantic.
Matt Grzelcyk was paired on the third defensive pairing with Kevan Miller as Cassidy made John Moore a healthy scratch. This decision would prove to be helpful upon what was an otherwise surefire goal, only to be blocked by Grzelcyk, later in the game.
Cassidy made no other changes and went with Rask in goal as opposed to Jaroslav Halak as Rask has won back his starting job for the time being.
Joining Moore in the press box on the shortlist of healthy scratches were Colby Cave and Steven Kampfer, while Joakim Nordstrom (non-displaced fibula fracture) remained in Boston for the duration of this short road trip.
Late in the first period, David Krejci (9) blasted a shot past Hutchinson to open up the game’s scoring, 1-0, for Boston at 18:21.
Kuraly (7) and Zdeno Chara (2) had the assists on Krejci’s goal.
About a minute later, John Tavares was sent to the penalty box for hooking Pastrnak at 19:38, but the Bruins couldn’t convert on the power play heading into the first intermission– even though it would overlap the start of the second period.
After one period, Boston held onto a, 1-0, lead, despite being outshot by Toronto, 15-9. The Maple Leafs dominated possession in the first period, leading in takeaways (2-0), giveaways (8-4) and face-off win percentage (59-41), as well.
The B’s led in blocked shots (8-4) and hits (13-10) entering the first intermission.
Early in the second period, Andreas Johnsson was guilty of boarding Carlo at 2:40, resulting in Boston’s second power play of the night. The Bruins couldn’t muster anything on the power play, as momentum started to swing more in Toronto’s favor.
Almost midway through the middle frame, Johnsson (10) redeemed himself with a goal that took an odd bounce from up high, down low and through Rask’s five-hole to tie the game, 1-1, at 7:37 of the second period.
Less than a minute later, Miller cut a rut to the sin bin for holding William Nylander at 8:59 and the Maple Leafs went on their first power play of the night.
It only took about 30 seconds for Mitch Marner (17) to unload his cannon of a shot on Rask and beat the Bruins netminder cleanly, giving Toronto its first lead of the night.
Marner’s goal was assisted by Nazem Kadri (17) and Kapanen (13) at 9:30 of the middle frame and was the first lead change in the season series between Boston and Toronto this season.
In all three games entering Saturday night, the team that scored first went on to win the game.
The Bruins made sure to make that stat ring true, rendering it four-for-four with their comeback late in the second frame.
Wagner (4) and Acciari (3) were credited with the assists.
Kuraly now has four goals in his last 10 games (he had four goals in 84 games prior to this recent stretch).
Less than two minutes later, Patrice Bergeron bungled a clearing attempt and sent the puck clear over the glass, resulting in an automatic delay of game penalty and putting the Maple Leafs back on the power play for the second time of the night.
This time, Rask and his penalty killing unit in front of him stood tall and killed off Bergeron’s minor.
As the seconds were ticking off the clock in the second period, Kuraly worked the puck to Pastrnak in the low slot after capitalizing on a weak pass attempt from one Maple Leafs skater to another.
Pastrnak (26) buried the puck behind Hutchinson at 19:45 and gave the B’s the lead, 3-2.
Kuraly (8) had the only assist on the goal and earned himself a three-point night.
With the goal, Pastrnak tied Barry Pederson for the most career goals (with 120) in Bruins franchise history by a player before their 23rd birthday.
Heading into the second intermission, Boston led Toronto, 3-2, on the scoreboard, despite the Maple Leafs holding an advantage in shots on goal (26-19).
The Leafs also led in takeaways (5-1), giveaways (14-9) and face-off win% (55-46) prior to the start of the third period, while the B’s led in blocked shots (11-9) and hits (23-19).
Both teams would stay out of the box for the final period of play, resulting in Toronto’s final power play stat line reading as 1/2 and Boston’s skater advantage going 0/2.
Maple Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, pulled his netminder with about two minutes remaining in regulation for an extra attacker, but unlike his own skaters on the ice, the Bruins brass played tight defense in their own zone.
The final horn sounded and Boston had sealed the deal on a 3-2 victory, despite trailing in shots on goal (32-29), giveaways (18-12) and face-off win% (52-48).
The Bruins finished the night leading in blocked shots (20-11) and hits (29-28) with Rask picking up his fifth straight win and 251st career win with Boston as both teams played the final 5:56 of regulation without a stoppage.
Rask is one win shy of tying Tiny Thompson‘s franchise record for most wins by a goaltender in Bruins history with 252. Frank Brimsek, the goaltender who upended Thompson from his job with Boston in the 1938-39 season, is third on the list with 230 career wins as a Bruin.
The Bruins return home to take on the Montreal Canadiens Monday night at TD Garden before traveling to Philadelphia for a Wednesday night matchup with the Flyers in the first of back-to-back game days.
Boston hosts the St. Louis Blues on Thursday before facing the New York Rangers next Saturday in the B’s final game before the All-Star break.