The Boston Bruins faced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night for the third time this season. This was game one of a two game home-and-home series between the two division rivals. Toronto and Boston were only separated by one point coming into the game (Toronto with 30 points, Boston with 29 points), so first place in the Northeast Division was on the line in this one.
The key to this game was going to be the play of the first lines for both teams. The Leafs top line of Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak, and Phil Kessel are a dangerous line to compete against. Kessel leads his team in goals (16) and points (31) and Lupul leads his team in assists (18) coming into this game. On the other hand, the B's top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton combined for 11 points in two games against the Leafs this season. Something had to give.
The Leafs grabbed the early lead when Mikhail Grabovski scored at 7:29 of the first period. Clarke MacArthur sent a long bouncing pass over to Grabovski and slid the puck past Tim Thomas. After that goal, Boston put heavy pressure on Toronto and dominated the rest of the period. At 15:08, Milan Lucic tied the game up at one on assists from Tyler Seguin and Zdeno Chara. Both first period goals were power play goals.
Both teams alternated scoring chances in the second period. There was a ten minute stretch where Thomas and Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson made some great stops on rushes by their opponent. However, within that stretch the Bruins were able to grab the lead for the first time in the game. Krejci scored his fourth goal of the season by going hard to the net and putting in a deflected shot by Horton.
The Leafs tied the game up four minutes later when Kessel led a 2-on-1 with Lupul up ice after beating Chara to the puck. Kessel passed the puck over to Lupul and shot it past Thomas into the goal. The assist by Kessel was his first point against Boston this season. Chara scored his fifth goal of the season to put the B's back on top later on in the period.
The fast-paced play continued into the third period. In the final 20 minutes, Boston added three more goals as they continue to dominate late in games. They now have a plus-30 goal differential in the second and third periods this season. Benoit Pouliot scored his third goal of the season when he was fed the puck by Joe Corvo behind the net. The goal came just as their power play expired.
Matt Frattin gave Toronto a bit of hope when he beat Thomas from a really tough angle. All he needed was an inch of space and he found it. Lucic scored his second goal of the game on Krejci's second assist of the game. Brad Marchand added an empty net goal to seal the victory. Boston defeated Toronto by a score of 6-3.
The Bruins finish the month of November with a 12-0-1 record. The last time they finished a calendar month without a regulation loss was January 1969. The B's now possess a 15-7-1 record and 31 points, surpassing the Maple Leafs for the division lead.
Boston will be back in action for game two of the home-and-home series against Toronto on Saturday night at the TD Garden.
Gold Star: David Krejci (1 goal, 2 assists, plus-2 rating, 3 shots on goal)...He sure looked like a first-line center in this game. Has his soft hands finally returned?
Black Star: Adam McQuaid...He finished the night with a minus-2 rating and he could not even get a shot on goal. You should at least be able to get a shot on goal as a defenseman.