|Connelly’s Top Ten: RIP Cecil the Lion||David Krejci: The Most Interesting Man on the Bruins||Pedro Martinez Number Retired, Fenway Celebrates||(David) Price is Wrong for Red Sox|
Someone better tell the Bruins it’s almost winter because they are hot; 8-1-1 in their last ten games. The Bruins defeated Phil Kessel’s Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night by the score of 5-2 at home. Five days earlier, Boston defeated the same team 7-2. Scoring 12 goals to Toronto’s 4 is something to be proud of.
With all the talk earlier in the season on how the Bruins have no offense, all of a sudden the team has more than enough. With the win on Thursday, the Bruins remained in first place with a point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres and 10 points ahead of Toronto, who is destined to finish last in the Northeast.
The Bruins were led by veteran Mark Recchi who scored two goals in the last three minutes to keep Boston on top to secure the win. The two goals were Recchi’s sixth and seventh of the season with the first one being a power-play goal and then an empty-net goal to finish off the game.
The other star of the game for the Bruins was goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask stopped 32 of 34 shots for his ninth win of the season. His season record is now 9-2-2 as he has won back-to-back games against the Maple Leafs.
In the first period Mark Stuart got things going for the B’s as he was able to net his second goal of the season eight minutes into the game to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Johnny Boychuk was credited for his first career assist on the play along with Daniel Paille.
Derek Morris didn’t take long to extend the lead as he was able to score his third goal of the season on the power play 35 seconds into the second period. He was assisted by Zdeno Chara and Michael Ryder on the play. David Krejci then added his fourth goal of the season 11 minutes into the period to bring the score to 3-0 Bruins. Krejci’s goal was unassisted.
Toronto started off the third period quickly with a goal by Mikhail Grabovski just 18 seconds into the period. It was Grabovski’s seventh goal of the season. Less than four minutes later Nikolai Kulemin added his sixth goal of the year to bring the game to within a goal as the Bruins led 3-2 still early in the third. The Bruins then held off Toronto by playing strong defense and being physical with the last place team in the Northeast. Late in the period Recchi decided to show up and score a couple goals himself. His first was on a power play after Jason Blake was called for high-sticking Chara. Then with 12 seconds left in the game he was able to steal his seventh goal of the season on an empty-netter to finalize the score 5-2.
The Bruins actually had less shots on goal (33) than Toronto (34) but still came away with the commanding win. The Maple Leafs even won more faceoffs (27) than the Bruins (22) and faceoffs are always Boston’s strong point.
The deciding factor for the game was the power play efficiency between the two teams. The Bruins went 2-for-3 on their new and improved power play while Toronto was unsuccessful going 0-for-2 with the man advantage. Ever since Marc Savard came back the Bruins have been converting on the power play and continue to be a force on the penalty kill. The Bruins actually lead the league in penalty kill and are 26th in the league in power play efficiency, which is better than 29th and 30th like they were not too long ago.
The Bruins continued their hitting as well as the team had 34 hits on the night, compared to the Maple Leafs 22. Toronto also had more penalty minutes (15) than Boston (11). Stuart took out Jamal Mayers in the second period as the two of them battled it out for most the period. Both of them receiving seven minutes in the penalty box.
While much of the talk surrounding this game was focused on Phil Kessel returning to the TD Garden, he had very little impact on the game. He was on the ice for 18 minutes and 49 seconds and only had two shots-on-goal. Every time he got on the ice or held the puck there was a loud array of boos coming from the stands as the former Bruin is now an arch rival in Boston. He is having a stellar season with 16 points off 10 goals and six assists in only 18 games for Toronto. Last season he had a career-high 60 points with 36 goals.
The Bruins will visit the New York Islanders on Saturday night. The Bruins are 1-1-0 against the Islanders this season with a loss coming from the two team’s last meeting nearly a month ago. It should be a tough test as the Islanders are very young and play like they have nothing to lose, because they don’t…since they are in last place in the Atlantic Division.