Bruins slam door on Maple Leafs
Marc Savard scored a hat trick and Tuukka Rask made 31 saves as the Boston Bruins skated to a 7-2 home win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Patrice Bergeron, Marco Sturm and Zdeno Chara each had a goal and an assist for Boston (15-9-5). Defenceman Johnny Boychuk scored his first NHL goal for the Bruins, while veteran Mark Recchi got his 550th.
For all the talk of the player the Boston Bruins let walk — Phil Kessel — the goalie the Toronto Maple Leafs gave away was the bigger factor in a win on Saturday night.
Tuukka Rask, drafted by Toronto in the first round in 2005, was beaten only in the game's final five minutes.
Niklas Hagman scored his 14th for the Maple Leafs to prevent the Rask shutout, with Mikhail Grabovski scoring a nice tip goal with two minutes left.
For his part, Savard now has four goals in three games since signing a lucrative contract extension earlier this week.
The Bruins played like a team that was smarting from an embarrassing loss less than 24 hours earlier. Boston put forth its worst performance of the season on Friday night, a 5-1 loss in Montreal.
"It's a big win," said Savard, who had his eighth goal of the season and third hat trick of his career. "We got embarrassed the other night, so we kind of took it back here."
Rask, who replaced Tim Thomas for the third period of the Montreal loss, was traded from Toronto in a deal that sent Andrew Raycroft the other way. Raycroft has been playing elsewhere the past two seasons.
Rask saved his best work for the second period. He made glove saves on Matt Stajan and Lee Stempniak to prevent the Leafs from making it a two-goal game.
The Finnish goalie assisted on the fifth Boston goal, for good measure.
Most of the pre-game chatter surrounded the return to Boston of sniper Kessel, who left the Bruins on shaky terms and was traded in September to Toronto in exchange for three high draft picks.
Kessel had 10 goals in 15 games heading in, but Saturday was a tough outing. The 21-year-old finished with a minus-3 rating and had just two shots on goal.
"You've just got to be really aware when he's got the puck," Rask said. "There was one in the first period he shot on the power play, but other than that, I think really we did a good job shutting him down."
The homecoming of sorts was also painful for Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who has family in the area. Burke could be seen stewing in the press box during an ugly second half for Toronto (8-13-7).
Toronto had come into the game on an encouraging 5-1-2 run, allowing them to get within shouting distance of an Eastern Conference playoff position. But the bad habits that crept in during the third period of a big win Thursday in Columbus were apparent from the first period on Saturday.
"We were horrific defensively in Columbus, Joey [MacDonald] had a great game," said coach Ron Wilson. "Tonight the same mistakes the Bruins took advantage of, as simple as that.
"Everybody writes that we dominated Columbus. They had the puck, more shots, more scoring chances — this is what you get."
The Bruins scored twice in 33 seconds just over five minutes into the game on Leafs starter MacDonald. Recchi wheeled in the Toronto end and fed Derek Morris for a point shot that hit Patrice Bergeron and then Sturm before going in.
"It seemed like every shot they took hit a stick in front and found its way," MacDonald said.
Rebound off point shot
The second Boston goal occurred in similar fashion. Blake Wheeler outfought Toronto defenceman Jeff Finger for a puck on the boards, and Savard shovelled in a rebound of Chara's point shot.
Grabovski skated in alone late in the period in a bid to get Toronto on the board, but Rask got just enough of the puck to deflect it wide.
Recchi tested MacDonald in the first 20 seconds of the middle period. The Toronto netminder stopped that one, but couldn't extend far enough with his right pad to prevent Chara's second of the season.
Rask was cool and collected at the other end. He batted a puck out of the air and then sprawled to keep the puck out in an early period scramble.
Rask's save on Stempniak came with Toronto short-handed, and it gave the Bruins a boost.
After coming up empty on nine power-play chances dating back to the Montreal game, Boston finally converted at 14:35.
Out of position
Michael Ryder skated behind the Toronto net instead of shooting on net, leaving MacDonald out of position to set up Savard with an easy tap in.
"This game was over halfway through the second period," Wilson said. "Unfortunately, we didn't do anything right."
The third saw Vesa Toskala replace MacDonald. Toskala hadn't played since leaving midway through a Nov. 23 game due to a groin injury.
Toskala didn't have a chance on the first goal, with Recchi the beneficiary of a tremendous individual effort from Bergeron, potting a rebound for a power-play marker.
The Boychuk goal came from a powerful slapshot from the right point, with Savard's third going off Toronto defender Luke Schenn and past Toskala.
Hagman broke the goose-egg from the left of the Boston crease, assisted by Stajan and Francois Beauchemin.
Grabovksi's fifth was a deflection of a Schenn shot.
With files from The Associated Press