Pastrnak powers Bruins over Maple Leafs
Boston winger breaks deadlock in Toronto with late 2nd period goal
For once the Boston Bruins' top line wasn't Toronto's undoing.
The Maple Leafs took care of that all by themselves with a couple of costly turnovers.
Sean Kuraly and David Pastrnak pounced on miscues by Toronto defencemen Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev late in the second period to turn a 2-1 Leafs lead into a one-goal deficit as Boston grabbed a 3-2 victory Saturday.
"We came out and played the game we wanted to," said Toronto winger Mitch Marner, who scored his 17th goal of the season. "Just made a couple of mistakes and they didn't miss."
Kuraly set up both Pastrnak and David Krejci to register the first three-point game of his career for Boston (26-15-4), which eliminated the Leafs in the first round of last season's playoffs.
Tuukka Rask made 30 saves as the Bruins won the season series between the teams 3-1 and now sit just two points back of the Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division.
"Two big points," Kuraly said. "There was no other way to look at it."
Watch highlights of Boston's win over Toronto:
Andreas Johnsson also scored for Toronto (28-14-2), which does have a game in hand on Boston. Michael Hutchinson stopped 26 shots.
The Bruins beat the Leafs 5-1 at home on Nov. 10 before Toronto returned the favour 16 days later with a 4-2 victory at Scotiabank Arena to set up a testy affair featuring 98 minutes in penalties that Boston won 6-3 on Dec. 8.
It's only January, but it's there's a good chance the clubs could meet in a rematch of last spring's playoff series that went the distance — a task Nazem Kadri said the Leafs would gladly welcome.
"We're always looking forward to playing these guys," said the centre. "They're a great hockey team, they're well-coached.
"Tons of credit goes to them, but we're a good team, too."
Down 2-1 in the second, Boston got even at 14:47 when Gardiner fanned on a breakout attempt before having the puck stolen by Chris Wagner, who in turn fed Kuraly to snap home his fifth.
Kuraly then intercepted Zaitsev's soft pass behind the net before feeding Pastrnak, who buried his 26th past a surprised Hutchinson with 13.7 seconds left on the clock.
Pastrnak, who took a puck off the cheek in warmup, now has 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in 15 career regular-season games against Toronto — including six goals and three assists in four outings this season — after scoring five times and setting up eight against the Leafs in the 2018 playoffs.
Hutchinson scrambled to stop a Pastrnak chance early in the third to keep his team in it before Kadri missed the net from a difficult angle at the other end midway through the period.
Auston Matthews, who has just one goal in his last nine games, had Rask down and out with four minutes to go, but the puck rolled off his stick on what would be Toronto's best opportunity to tie.
"You've got to push through it," Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. "A little struggle in your life never hurt anybody. Just dig in."