The Toronto Maple Leafs are just one point behind the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division after beating the B’s 4-2 at Air Canada Centre on Monday night.
These rivals were all square for most of the game, but a suspect penalty call on the Bruins allowed the Leafs to win the game late in the third period with a power-play goal. Toronto tallied two empty-net goals and the B’s also scored before the final horn sounded.
The Bruins drop to 38-28-6 with the loss, while the Leafs improve to 33-23-15.
Here’s how it all went down.
The Bruins opened the scoring at 7:26 of the first period when David Backes tallied his 16th goal of the season. Brad Marchand made the play possible by executing a successful zone entry and maneuvering around the offensive zone before a good passing lane opened up.
The assist was Marchand’s 80th point of the campaign, which ties him for the league lead with Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. It’s also Marchand’s first 80-point season.
The first period featured plenty of tough hits and physicality, but this was a textbook cross check and a cheap play by Nikita Soshnikov. Luckily for the B’s, Patrice Bergeron quickly got up and was not injured by the hit.
LEAFS DRAW EVEN
Toronto kept attacking and created a few quality scoring chances before finally cashing in on a Morgan Rielly goal at 14:05 of the first period.
TUUKKA RASK STANDS TALL
The Bruins wouldn’t have had a chance to win if not for Rask’s fantastic play. The B’s goalie saved 26 of the 28 shots he faced and impressively stopped the Leafs on 11 of their 12 high-danger scoring chances. Overall, it was Rask’s best performance against the Leafs this season. He entered the game 0-1-0 with a .788 save percentage in two starts against Toronto.
TOUGH WAY TO LOSE
A questionable interference call on Dominic Moore with 2:54 remaining in the third period proved to be the difference as the Leafs scored on the ensuing power play to take a 2-1 lead. Moore was battling with Soshnikov in the slot and the Leafs forward went down to the ice rather easily, but it was enough to draw the call.
Tyler Bozak scored the go-ahead tally for Toronto.
The Leafs swept the season series with the Bruins, going 4-0-0 and outscoring Boston 18-9. It’s the first time Toronto has swept the B’s since 1997, when the Leafs still were in the Western Conference and only played Boston twice per season.
For a season series of at least three games, you need to go back many more decades.
Here’s an updated look at the East playoff picture.
TIME TO CELEBRATE
Bobby Orr, aka the best player in NHL history, celebrated his 69th birthday on Monday.
The Bruins welcome the Ottawa Senators to TD Garden on Tuesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images