Final: Boston 4, Toronto 2
Recap: After 19 minutes of scoreless hockey, Tyler Seguin forced a turnover near Toronto's blue line and broke in on Ben Scrivens. Hit attempt was denied, but Patrice Bergeron was there to bang home the rebound and give the Bruins a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.
In the second, red-hot Nazem Kadri knotted things up on a 2-on-1 with Clarke MacArthur. Boston regained the lead less than five minutes later on Seguin's sixth of the season. David Krejci made it a two-goal advantage with 1:57 to go in the middle frame, backhanding home a loose puck from close range.
With 5:08 to go in regulation, after what was quite possible the most uneventful 14:52 of hockey ever witnessed, Jay McClement helped Toronto cut the lead to one, tipping a shot from Mikhail Grabovski past Anton Khudobin. The Leafs, however, managed just five shots in the third. Seguin stuck a nail in their coffin with 15 ticks left, burying the empty-netter for his second goal of the night.
Records: Boston 15-3-3, 33 points; Toronto 15-10-0, 30 points
Key Play of the Game: In the second period, the Leafs outshot the Bruins by a 2-to-1 margin (12-6), but Krejci's goal two minutes before the intermission was a major blow for Toronto's hopes. Rather than heading into the third down one, they trailed by two and officially relinquished momentum.
Connolly's Commendations: Those of you who read these recaps on a regular basis must be awfully bored when you come across this section, as it bestows praise upon the Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line on damn near a nightly basis. Well, to the surprise of no one, the trio was awesome again tonight, racking up eight points and sweeping the Three Stars of the Game. Bergeron took the top honor with 1-2-3 totals and a plus-3 rating.
Another solid effort for Khudobin, who stopped 25-of-27 on the night and improved to 4-1 on the year.
Connolly's Critiques: The Leafs biggest offensive threats, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, turned in absolute stinkers. Kessel's become known for that when facing Boston, and he didn't do anything to buck the trend. He had just two shots and was minus-2, despite 4:03 of power-play time. Van Riemsdyk was also minus-2 and had a pair of forgettable shots on goal.
Third-liners Jay Pandolfo and Rich Peverley were minus-1, while Chris Kelly escaped the night with an even rating. We've ripped on these guys enough, but man, there was one shift early on in the game in which they had Toronto pinned in, but could only manage to take turns missing open nets and prompting just about everyone in the building to turn to the person next to them and ask, "How on God's green earth did he miss that?"
Good on Krejci for getting the top line a rare goal, but No. 46 was awfully turnover prone -- none more noticeable than when he lost the puck and set up Kadri and MacArthur for their 2-on-1, which led to Toronto's first goal of the game.
Notes: Tonight was Dan Paille's 400th NHL game. The Bruins have now won eight straight against the Leafs.
Final Thoughts: I don't think I'll ever quite figure out how a team like Toronto doesn't REALLY get up for this game. The Bruins are widely considered to be the top team in the conference. You haven't beaten them in nearly two freakin' calendar years, and you turn in that dud? Yeeouch.
Next: The Bruins will host the Flyers on Saturday at 1 o'clock.