The Boston Bruins got back on the right trackÂ Saturday night, knocking off the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre to halt a season-long five-game losing streak.
The Bruins’ best led the way in the 3-1 victory, with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara each scoring one goalÂ and Tuukka Rask stopping 25 of the 26 shots he faced. David Krejci also chipped in with two assists, and Matt Beleskey added a goal and a helper to go along with four hits and three blocked shots.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
The Bruins weathered a furious Maple Leafs rally with Toronto’s goalie pulled, and Beleskey potted an empty-netter with less than a minute remaining to close out the scoring.
For the fifth time in six games, the Bruins allowed their opponent to get on the scoreboard first.
Boston College product Ben Smith opened the scoring for the Leafs, tipping a Colin Greening shot past Rask with just over three minutes remaining in the first period.
The Bruins had a few scoring chances in the opening frame — David Krejci provided the best after a neutral-zone turnover by Toronto rookie William Nylander — but struggled to generate extended possession in the offensive zone and failed to find the back of the net on anyÂ of their nine shots on goal.
Krejci and Frank Vatrano were the only Bruins players to record multiple shots on netÂ in the first. They both had two.
BERGERON, PP, BIG Z BREAK THROUGH
Bergeron tied the score with a power-play goal early in the second period, snapping a season-long streak of eight consecutive games without a goal for the Selke Trophy front-runner.
The game-tying tally also represented a breakthrough for the Bruins’ power play, which had come up empty inÂ the team’s previous 13 man-advantageÂ situations.
DefensemanÂ Zdeno Chara then gave the Bruins their first leadÂ less than four minutes later, gathering the rebound of a Krejci shot and beatingÂ Bernier with a wicked backhander.
Chara carried an even longer goal-scoring slump than Bergeron’s into Saturday, having been unable to light the lamp in his previous 20 games.
Matt Beleskey andÂ Torey Krug assisted on Bergeron’s goal, and Krejci and VatranoÂ picked up helpers on Chara’s. Vatrano’s assist gave the rookie winger the first three-game point streak of his young career.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic Division on Saturday, the Floirda Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2, and the Detroit Red Wings were blown out by the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-2. So, the race for the Atlantic’s three guaranteed playoff spots now looks like this:
1. Panthers, 93 points
2. Lightning, 91 points
3. Bruins, 88 points
4. Red Wings, 85 points
Boston has six regular-season games remaining, while Florida, Tampa Bay and Detroit each have seven.
TheÂ Bruins will head to New Jersey on Tuesday to take on the Devils before travelingÂ to the Midwest for dates with the St. Louis Blues on Friday and the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
Thumbnail photo viaÂ Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images