The Toronto Maple Leafs may want to start paying a little closer attention to Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron when the teams hook up in Boston.
It was, after all, Bergeron who stomped on the hearts of Leafs Nation last season when he struck at 6:05 of overtime
in a game the Maple Leafs led by three goals entering the third period of Game 7 of their first round playoff series against Boston. You may recall that particular tilt, the one Toronto also led by two goals with 1:22 remaining in the third period, but ultimately lost
Bergeron was back at it Saturday night scoring not only the game-winning goal, but an empty-netter that served as the insurance marker as the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 3-1
Since the disastrous collapse last spring, the Maple Leafs have claimed to have learned, if nothing else, they can compete with the Bruins - a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference since 2007. Perhaps it was the fact the Maple Leafs played at home Friday night
and then had a rough trip to Boston, but they started slowly and played rather tentatively in the first period in which they were out-shot 14-7. The Maple Leafs pulled up their britches in the second period out-shooting their hosts 18-10, but ran out of steam in the third.
"I didn't think we had a very good start to the game and they were all over us," said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle. "From a physical standpoint we didn't really get involved in the game early."
Carlyle is right. The Maple Leafs appeared to be physically intimidated, though that changed as the game progressed.
The Bruins first two goals were scored with the man advantage and that also rankled the coach.
"Our penalty-killing has been one of our strongest suits this year and we give up two power play goals that were basically empty-net goals for the Boston hockey club and those are things that are correctable," Carlyle huffed. "On the first one we had two guys go to one guy and left a man uncovered in front of the net in a critical area."
Carlyle wasn't completely unsatisfied with his team's overall effort, but as he has done in the past few days, he took the opportunity to suggest a better effort will bring better results.
"We seemed to run out of gas in the third period," he said. "It seemed like we didn't have much going and they got their composure back and they moved the puck around us...We're not playing a bad hockey club over there, too. That's what happens when you play against good clubs night in and night out. That's why you put all the hard work in and the conditioning aspect of it. With the hard practices hopefully we'll continue to reap the rewards."Reimer's record
Toronto goalie James Reimer's record against the Bruins slipped to 4-5-1, but on the bright side, he had one of his best outings of the season even in defeat. One of Reimer's biggest concerns has been rebound control, but for the most part he was in control of the shots he faced against Boston.Shot tracker
Joffrey Lupul led the Maple Leafs in shots on goal with eight and managed his eighth goal of the season in the process. Defenceman Jake Gardiner was second with seven. Jarome Iginla led Boston with six shots.Naz knocked
Leafs centre Nazem Kadri was drilled on an open ice hit by Boston defenceman Johnny Boychuk in the third period and the principal point of contact seemed to be his head -- more specifically his jaw. That said, even if it did not appear that Boychuk was on a head-hunting mission. Nevertheless, the NHL has suspended players in the past that were not penalized. Kadri was in obvious pain as he left the ice and then flipped his lid and drilled it to the ground after sitting on the bench for a few seconds. After retiring to the dressing room for a while Kadri returned to the game a short while later.PK woes
The Maple Leafs entered the game as the NHL's fifth best penalty-killing team operating at an 86.2 per-cent success rate, but gave up two extra-man goals for the first time this season.Ice hog
Toronto defenceman Mark Fraser returned to the lineup after missing 13 games with a knee injury, Friday against New Jersey and played 14:16. Not sure that prepared him for the super-shift he took in the first period against Boston Saturday night. Fraser found himself on the ice with the Bruins pressing in the Maple Leafs zone for a shift that lasted 2:51. That's about five shifts worth of ice time on average.Vintage Clarkson
With Toronto trailing 1-0 early in the second period, Maple Leafs right-winger David Clarkson initiated a fight with Boston's Jarome Iginla in an effort to wake his team up. Unable to make an impact on the scoreboard since serving his 10-game suspension, Clarkson deferred to the physical side of his game to help make an impact. Clarkson gives away about 20 pounds to Iginla, but held his own in the bout. The next time the pair lined up for a face-off, they appeared to have a rather agreeable conversation. The debate about whether or not a fight can energize a team will go on forever, but there is no denying the Maple Leafs picked up their game after this particular scrap. A short while later Clarkson crashed into Bruins giant defenceman Chara and knocked him to the ice.No Orr in Boston
That's Colton, not Bobby. Toronto enforcer Colton Orr sat out his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. Orr started his pro career with the Bruins in 2003.Rookie Rielly sits
Defenceman Morgan Rielly stayed in the lineup against New Jersey Friday as the Maple Leafs' seventh defenceman when Orr sat out, because coach Carlyle elected to go with seven defencemen. But against Carlyle opted to sit the teenage blue-liner in favor of winger Carter Ashton who completed his two-game suspension for hitting from behind.
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