Phil Kessel has been much-maligned for his play against the Boston Bruins, but the forward finally began to rewrite his narrative Saturday night at the TD Garden.
Kessel scored the game-winning goal on a breakaway past the Bruins defense, leading the Leafs to a 4-2 victory and knotting the Leafs’ first-round series up at one game apiece. The tally was of particular note since Kessel had never scored an even-strength goal against his former team, and it also came in a game that many bystanders expected the Bruins to win en route to an easy series victory.
Instead, Kessel has shed the 300-pound gorilla from his back, and that could spell bad news for the Bruins. With the Leafs flying around high as the series shifts to a surely raucous Air Canada Centre, Toronto is brimming with confidence — and their top scorer might be ready to remind Boston what it was that Brian Burke saw when he traded for Kessel in the first place.
Check out Kessel’s goal in the video below.
Tonight's three stars: 1. Phil Kessel; 2. Phil Kessel; 3. Tyler Seguin for getting the Leafs Phil Kessel.—
Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) May 05, 2013
Of course, while Kessel did his best to steal the show in Boston, that was impossible after what took place before Saturday’s game. That was when Boston Marathon survivor and hero Jeff Bauman was recognized by the Bruins organization and given a chance to serve as “banner captain.”
It was hard to not get emotional as Bauman, now a double amputee, rallied the Boston crowd into a frenzy before puck drop. Waving a “Boston Strong’ banner while an enormous Bruins flag was passed around the lower bowl of the TD Garden, Bauman provided yet another indelible moment reminding the nation of a city’s strength.
Justin Abdelkader is likely to be hearing from NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan soon, but he likely won’t be the only one getting a call from the league’s suspension honcho.
Abdelkader left his feet to deliver a crushing, high hit on Toni Lydman 15 minutes in to the second period of Detroit’s Game 2 against the Anaheim Ducks, and that was the night for the Red Wings forward. Abdelkader was ejected, the Ducks scored on the ensuing major penalty and never looked back in a 4-0 victory.
However, Abdelkader might not be alone in missing his next playoff game. Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf caught Bruins forward Daniel Paille with an elbow around the head during Toronto’s win. Just as Boston defenseman Andrew Ference was dinged a game for his high hit on Mikhail Grabovski, Phaneuf might find himself out the next time those teams meet.
Watch Abdelkader’s hit here.
Mike Green buried the OT winner to lead Washington to a 2-0 series lead against the Rangers, and obviously, New York coach John Tortorella wasn’t happy about it after the game. Notorious for not suffering fools, “Torts” didn’t mince any words in a classic postgame news conference.