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When Shawn Thornton threw down with Toronto Maple Leaf right winger Colton Orr early in the Bruins’ game Thursday night at the TD Garden, he sent a clear message: No more listless hockey. We’re fighting back.
And boy, did they ever.
Four different Bruins posted three-point games, and two first-period power play goals kick-started a high-energy, high-intensity 6-2 Bruins victory over the Maple Leafs.
Despite aggressive offensive play from the Bruins in the game’s opening minutes, the Leafs struck first when center Tyler Bozak found David Steckel, who fired a slapshot past Tim Thomas with 7:29 gone in the first. The Leafs went up 1-0, and once again it looked like the dejected Bruins would have to play from behind.
This time, however, Boston only had to play from behind for three minutes. Matt Frattin took out Benoit Pouliot, and halfway through the resulting power play David Krejci won a faceoff in Toronto’s zone. Krejci fed it back to Andrew Ference, who crossed to Zdeno Chara inside the blue line. Chara fired a bullet at Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who blocked the shot, but the puck bounced in front of the goal. Nathan Horton collected the rebound and quickly put it in the net to tie the game with just over 10 minutes left in the first.
Pouliot earned the Bruins another power play just under five minutes later when left winger Joffrey Lupul tripped him. The results were almost identical.
Tyler Seguin made a pass from the left Maple Leaf circle back to Ference at the blue line. Ference then passed to Chara in the right circle, completing a nifty “v” pass and catching the defense on the wrong side of the ice. Chara fired off another rocket, and this time the puck blew past Gustavsson before he could even react. Chara’s first goal of the season put the Bruins up 2-1.
The Bruins added a third, plain-old five-on-five goal late in the period. Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly worked the puck up the ice from the neutral zone, and Lucic eventually carried it behind the Maple Leaf end line. Lucic then softly slid the puck to Kelly in front of the goal. Kelly bounced his first shot off Gustavsson’s pads, but he quickly collected the puck and elevated it into the goal for the 3-1 lead.
Because Ference had originally passed to Lucic, he earned his third assist.
The Bruins out-shot the Maple Leafs 18-7 in the first period, which included an over-nine-minute stretch after Steckel’s goal in which the Maple Leafs didn’t record a single shot on goal. That stretch included a Maple Leaf power play.
An extended stretch of penalties by both teams in the second period led to several minutes of five-on-four, four-on-four and even four-on-three hockey. This produced few memorable moments, as both teams struggled to establish any offensive rhythm.
The only dramatic moment came at 8:43, when Thomas made a lightning-fast glove-side save on a breakaway shot by Mikhail Grabovski. Thomas also had to make six saves in the final five minutes of the period after the Bruins defense repeatedly failed to clear the puck.
Luckily for Thomas, the Bruins didn’t need his brick wall impersonation to continue, as they returned to their scoring ways early in the third. Seguin worked the puck up the ice, then at the last minute got it under defenseman Dion Phaneuf‘s stick to an eager Lucic in front of the net. Gustavsson didn’t recover from the pass fast enough, and Lucic buried it at 2:08 for his first goal of the season.
The Bruins scored again eight minutes later, when Chara found Horton at the blue line for the breakout pass. Horton then centered it to Patrice Bergeron, who threaded the puck between two defenders and above Gustavsson’s glove for the 5-1 lead. Like Chara and Lucic, the goal was Bergeron’s first. It was also Chara’s second assist of the game, giving him three points.
Seguin and Lucic in the eleventh minute switched their earlier roles, with Lucic bringing the puck up the boards before finding the trailing Seguin in the high slot for the slapshot goal and 6-1 lead. Seguin and Lucic each finished the game with a goal and two assists.
Though Grabovski got one past Thomas late in the game, the game was already out of reach. Thomas finished with 26 saves – more than enough on a night when the Bruins’s best scorers finally got it going.
Tags: Andrew Ference, Benoit Pouliot, Boston Bruins, Chris Kelly, Colton Orr, David Krejci, david steckel, dion phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, Jonas Gustavsson, matt frattin, Mikhail Grabovski, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, NHL, Patrice Bergeron, Shawn Thornton, Tim Thomas, Toronto Maple Leafs, tyler bozak, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara