December 8, 2013

Banged-up Bruins blow past Leafs

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Boston 5, Toronto 2

Recap: After what felt like a dud of a first period that saw them fall behind 1-0 on a Peter Holland goal, the Bruins sprung to life in the middle frame. Boston outshot the host Maple Leafs 17-9 and exploded for three goals in the second period.

The B's kicked things off with two power-play goals 93 seconds apart. Carl Soderberg buried a sweet feed from Reilly Smith at 5:14, and Torey Krug made it 2-0 with a slapper a minute and a half later. With 4:02 to go in the period, Kevan Miller scored his first career goal to make it a 3-1 game.

In the third, the Leafs cut the lead back to one quickly, thanks to Jay McClement's first tally of the season at the 37-second mark. Boston put things back out of reach with four minutes to go, as Jarome Iginla's second goal in the last 13 games made it 4-2. Boston iced it with an empty-netter from Patrice Bergeron.

Records: Boston 20-8-2, 42 points; Toronto 16-12-3, 35 points

Key Play of the Game: The Leafs may have climbed back to within a goal early in the third, but Miller's tally capped off a spectacular period for the Black and Gold. The rookie blueliner's shot had eyes, as it made it through traffic from the point and probably should've been stopped by Jonathan Bernier, but that certainly doesn't diminish its impact on the contest.

Connolly's Commendations: The only forward group unaffected by all of the lineup absences was the first line, and sure enough, they came up big. Lucic helped set up two of the Bruins' tallies, ditto for Krejci, and Iginla put the game away with his third-period goal.

The not-so-usual suspects also stepped up. In addition to his goal, Miller logged over 22 minutes of ice time and blocked five shots. Jordan Caron had five (!) shots on goal and dished out four hits. Soderberg ended a mini-slump with a goal and an assist.

Connolly's Critiques: Matt Fraser probably hoped to see a little more ice time in his Bruins debut, as the P-Bruiins' leading goal scorer saw just 8:04 of action. He and Ryan Spooner were plus-1 but both played less than 10 minutes in the win. Spooner began the night 0-for-4 on faceoffs before Soderberg took over duties at the dot. 

Notes: Dion Phaneuf delivered a dangerous hit from behind on Miller in the closing minutes of the third period. Somehow, the referees missed this. Phaneuf was not penalized on the play but will have a hearing with the league. The Leafs captain should be in line for a short suspension. ... Dougie Hamilton left after seeing under six minutes of action, which stemmed from a hit along the boards from Carl Gunnarsson. Hamilton returned to Boston and will not be with the team for the remainder of their road trip. ... The B's have now outscored Toronto 8-3 in their two matchups this season. ... Chad Johnson improved to 5-1 with the victory. ... Phil Kessel's six-game point streak came to an end. He was minus-2.

Final Thoughts: Pretty gutsy win by the Bruins. Sans a number of key cogs, they managed to earn what was ultimately a runaway win in their third game in four nights.

Next: The Bruins will now travel to Calgary to take on the Flames Tuesday night.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ