Things may not have worked out as hoped with Phil Kessel in Boston before his acrimonious departure last September, but his trade to Toronto did net the Bruins three draft picks, including this year's No. 2 overall selection Tyler Seguin.
So when Seguin scored his second career goal at 12:26 of the second period to put the Bruins up 2-0 on Kessel's Leafs on Thursday night, the Garden faithful made sure the former Bruin knew just how much they appreciated his part in bringing a potential franchise center like Seguin to Boston.
No sooner had Seguin's name as the scorer been announced when the chants of "Thank you, Kessel" cascaded down from the same rafters where Bruins legend Milt Schmidt had his No. 15 re-raised in a pregame ceremony.
"That's what our fans are all about," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "They're great fans. They support the people that are here, and they taunt the people that were here and are gone. To me, those are perfect fans."
Seguin, who was informed after the game that he would be staying in Boston for the season and not going back to his junior team, did his best to stifle his own laughter when he heard the chants.
"Yes, of course," said Seguin when asked if he heard what the crowd was yelling. "I was on the bench and I was trying not to laugh. All the guys were kind of cracking up. It just shows the support of the fans."
Everyone except Kessel seemed to appreciate the humor of the moment.
"I could care less to tell you the truth," said Kessel of the chants. "It doesn't matter to me one bit."
What does matter to Kessel is that he's now gone seven games against his old club without a goal, and the Bruins are 5-1-1 against Toronto in that span. Kessel did have his opportunities to score in this one with a game-high six shots in 22:33.
"I had some good chances tonight, I just couldn't bury them," said Kessel. "I had some chances, what can you do?"
Seguin found a way to do more with much less, scoring on one of his three shots in 11:41.
"I was happy to see him score that goal," said Julien. "Again, he's a good player. He didn't have a ton of ice. I think we spent a lot of time killing penalties. That kind of at times pushes him out of the game a little bit. But what I like is whenever he's out there he responds well. He's been skating well. He had three shots tonight and I think he's heading in the right direction."
Seguin capitalized on a perfect feed from defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, collecting a pass from the right point down in the left faceoff circle and quickly firing it through Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson's pads.
"The goal was just something Seids and I had been working on," said Seguin. "Usually it's on the power play, but tonight it was at even strength and he just found that seam pass and usually we were working on me one-timing it, but I had to stop it quick and then found the five-hole."
Seguin's goal followed a key power-play strike by Patrice Bergeron in the final minute of the first period, as Bergeron one-timed a shot from Zdeno Chara to collect his first goal of the season and his 100th goal of his career.
That was more than enough for Tim Thomas, who continued his torrid start to the season with a 20-save shutout. Thomas is now 5-0-0 on the year and has stopped an amazing 153 of the 156 shots he's faced. He also continued his domination of teams from north of the border, as 11 of his 19 career shutouts have come against the six Canadian-based franchises in the league.
That won't make Thomas too popular in Canada, but Seguin will have his own problems in his home province of Ontario after helping beat Toronto.
"It's nice to do it against the local team," said Seguin. "I'll probably have a bunch of text messages after that, and probably a bunch of people not liking me right now."
None of those people are in Boston. The Bruins fans' wrath was directly solely at Kessel, who was once again booed every time he touched the puck. Seguin wouldn't mind getting that treatment on the road himself, and just might one day if he continues to develop as projected.
"Hopefully one day I can go to another barn and get booed," said Seguin. "Obviously that means you're doing something right."
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