BOSTON — The Bruins are averaging more goals per game than all but two NHL teams this season. They managed just one against James Reimer on Saturday night, but it was enough to secure a victory over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Zdeno Chara fired a slap shot past the Maple Leafs goaltender with 3:43 remaining in the third period, and Brad Marchand added an empty-netter in the game’s final seconds to power the Bruins to a 2-0 win at TD Garden.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Marchand’s empty-netter with 6.5 seconds sealed the the win.
The victory gave the Bruins their first home winning streak of the season, and it came over a Leafs team that had won five of its previous six games.
A BIG GOAL FOR BIG Z
Chara was given far too much time and space near the left circle on his game-winning goal. The hulking defenseman was given enough room to hesitate for a moment with his stick raised before rocketing it toward the ice and driving the puck past Reimer, who was excellent in a losing effort.
Goaltending was the name of the game Saturday.
In a rematch of the 2013 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Tuukka Rask and Reimer both were phenomenal for their respective squads. Reimer was tested more in the early going (14 saves in the first period), but Rask was stout when it mattered.
Shawn Matthias was the victim of two of Rask’s best efforts of the night as the Maple Leafs center came up empty on a pair of breakaway bids.
The game remained scoreless through two periods — the first time that had happened in a Bruins game this season.
Jimmy Hayes, who celebrated his 26th birthday Saturday, nearly broke the scoreless deadlock with less than 10 minutes to play, but Reimer’s glove and the skate of defenseman Matt Hunwick worked in concert to foil his doorstep scoring bid.
Reimer finished with 35 saves in the game, while Rask stopped all 22 shots he faced in his second shutout of the season.
BAD MAN MARCHAND
Marchand narrowly missed out on netting the Goal of the Year midway through the first period.
Some superb stickhandling from the Bruins winger had Morgan Rielly spinning like a top, but Reimer prevented him from finishing the job.
The first period was an eventful one for Marchand, who also was involved in a brief but heated altercation with Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk.
van Riemsdyk took offense to a leg-on-leg hit by Marchand on Leo Komarov and decided to give him a quick shove. Marchand, however, took that as an invitation to fight. He dropped the gloves, and when van Riemsdyk did not follow suit, he grabbed the University of New Hampshire product and drove him face-first into the ice.
Marchand’s actions earned him a roughing minor, which the Bruins successfully killed off. The scrap also sparked an exchange of words between Chara and Dion Phaneuf, but that beef was squashed before any fists could fly.
David Pastrnak (foot), Kevan Miller (upper body injury) and Frank Vatrano (upper body) did not suit up for the Bruins, nor did Joe Morrow, who was a healthy scratch for the seventh consecutive game. Max Talbot was recalled from Providence to replace Vatrano and saw his first NHL action since Nov. 8.
The B’s and Leafs will be back at it again Monday as their two-game home-and-home shifts to Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/Associated Press