The Leafs lose another close game within the division as the bruins escape the ACC with two points.
Right from the opening puck-drop, Boston imposed its possession game on the Leafs. The flow of the game was controlled by the visitors and for most of the night, the ice seemed tilted towards goaltender James Reimer.
The Bruins came out aggressive and the Leafs responded well with a couple of early scoring chances. There were a total of nine hits in the period along with a good scrap. Mark Fraser decided to drop the mitts with Lane MacDermid. The two exchanged punches before Fraser finally pushed MacDermid to the ice.
Chris Bourque killed any Leaf momentum after the bout, as he took a cross-crease pass from Chris Kelly. Bourque celebrated with his dad’s famous goal-pump on one knee after his first NHL goal.
Not long after, Toronto thought they’d tied it with a point shot that found its way through an outstretched Tuukka Rask. The goal was waved-off after the officials determined Nazem Kadri had tripped the net-minder. Replay showed Rask to be inches outside his crease and that Kadri was guided into Rask by the defenseman.
Nonetheless, despite a malfunctioning microphone, it was deemed no goal.
The Leafs went on the power play late in the first period but against one of the league’s best penalty-killing teams, it failed to score despite good pressure. The Leafs would finish the game 0-for-3 on the man advantage.
The curse continued for former Bruin Phil Kessel as he absolutely rung the iron once again. On a play that seemed to have his name written all over it, streaking down the right side, his wrister just couldn’t beat the iron.
In the last minutes of the second period, Kessel’s line generated multiple chances on consecutive shifts. David Steckel took a brilliant drive to the net, but Rask remained unbeatable.
MacDermid and Fraser went toe-to-toe again, but this one was much shorter. MacDermid dropped his foe with a right and put the momentum back in Boston’s hands.
Toronto came out aggressive in the third period. Leo Komarov smoked Johnny Boychuk into the boards, causing a scuffle with Zdeno Chara. Reimer continued to stand strong at the other end, kicking out save after save.
With about five minutes to go in the game, a point shot deflected off a mass of bodies in front of the Boston net and trickled passed James van Riemsdyk, who would have had the entire net to shoot at.
Tyler Seguin took a slashing penalty with 2:25 left in the game. Surely this was the moment the Leafs, maybe Kessel, would finally find twine. However, it just wasn’t meant to be and the Leafs took a penalty with 33 ticks left on the clock and the game ended 1-0.
Other than the obviously outstanding goaltending performance, the hero turned out to be the son of Bruin legend Raymond Bourque. Just a week ago, he found himself on the verge of being sent back to Providence to play with the farm team, but this goal will certainly help his case for keeping a job in Boston.
Physically, the Leafs stood well against a hard-hitting squad out of Boston. Carl Gunnarsson was scratched in favour of the bigger Mike Komisarek and the Leafs also made some other roster moves on this occasion in order to match up better for Saturday’s tilt.
The shots tell the story of a game that the Bruins dictated for the better part of the 60 minutes. Not only that, the quality of chances favoured the Bruins by a mile.
The goaltending was outstanding and Reimer had to make the tougher stops, but Rask earned his 21-save shutout. It was just one of those games for the Leafs offense where it seemed they were trying to put beach balls past Rask all night.
Hockey Night In Canada commentator Jim Hughson said it all night, “The Leafs are one bounce away from tying this game up.” But that bounce never came and Kessel ringing the bar sums it all up.
Something I’ve noticed this year is Mike Kostka’s shot. He does everything well except shooting the puck. I don’t know if I’ve seen him take a wrist shot once this year. Every time he gets a lane, he winds up for a boomer. Most times, the lane is taken away, or the goalie is able to get set for the shot and it never gets close.
All in all, the Leafs played a good game against a great team. It was clear, as was the case in the Rangers game last Saturday, that one team is on the rise and trying to make a run at the playoffs, while the other is priming itself for a run at Lord’s Stanley.
As stated by PJ Stock at the end of the game, it bites to have your goalie play so well and come away with no points. It was one of those games that should have went down as Reimer stealing one. Instead, the goose-egg left them empty-handed.
Toronto begins a busy week on Monday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes. It will be the first of five games in eight days.