TORONTO – Like all good things Boston’s winning streak against the Maple Leafs had to come to an end sooner or later.
It did just that in strange fashion as the Bruins vastly out-shot Toronto through 60 minutes of hockey, but still found a way to fall in a 3-2 loss at the Air Canada Centre on a night the Leafs honored Hall of Famer Mats Sundin. The Bruins closed to within a goal in the final 54 seconds of the third period, but couldn’t get the game-tying marker.
The loss for the Bruins snapped an eight game winning streak against the Leafs, and gave Toronto their first win in the divisional series since the 2010-11 season.
The Leafs seemed to take advantage of every chance they had in the first couple of periods. John-Michael Liles flipped a perfect saucer pass to Nazem Kadri behind defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, and Kadri beat Anton Khudobin to the far post. The Bruins fired 10 shots on net in the period and had some close calls.
But Nathan Horton summed up the period when he had all the time in the world to shoot a loose puck in front of the Toronto goal, and couldn’t elevate the shot against a sprawled James Reimer.
The Leafs added to the advantage in the second period when Mikhail Grabovski accelerated through Boston defenders before losing the puck to David Krejci in the right circle. But Grabovski won it back and again fired past Khudobin to the far post with a couple of Bruins bodies screening the goaltender.
Khudobin was finally pulled in the third period when sloppy play in the defensive zone led to Toronto enforcer Frazer McLaren somehow squirting a puck through the B’s goaltender’s pads. The Bruins followed by scoring on a Dennis Seidenberg point shot with Patrice Bergeron screening in front of the net to gather some momentum. With Rask pulled Andrew Ference fired another point shot that bounced off a Toronto body in front before beating James Reimer.
But that’s as close as they would get.
GOLD STAR: Andrew Ference hasn’t always been at his best this season, but he played a gritty game against the Maple Leafs while hunting for a win. He potted the team’s second goal of the game with the goalie pulled and little more than a minute left in the game, but the Bruins couldn’t close the deal with a goal to push it into overtime. Ference skated 22:33 of ice time and finished with four hits and three blocked shots in addition to the shot that bounced off a Toronto skater in front before resting in the back of the net. Ference has topped 22 minutes of ice time in each of the last three games after doing it only once in the third game of the season prior to that. Ference and Aaron Johnson were the only plus players for the B’s in the loss.
BLACK EYE: Milan Lucic finished with zero shots on net, one hit, a bundle of turnovers and some very standstill defense while watching Mikhail Grabovski speed by him for Toronto’s second goal of the game. Lucic had zero impact on the game and showed some frustration after one offensive zone turnover when he smashed his stick against the boards before snapping it with a two-handed chop over the bench. The Bruins power forward looks extremely lost right now, and has for a long period of time. He has zero goals and is a minus-5 during 13 games played in March thus far.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins might have been able to come back had they not allowed the sloppy, ugly third goal at the beginning of the third period, but shoddy play and soft goaltending allowed Toronto fighter Frazer McLaren to shuffle a puck through Anton Khudobin’s pads for the eventual game-winner. Claude Julien pulled Khudobin following that goal and the Bruins finally played with a little urgency, but it was far too late at that point already down by a 3-0 score.
HONORABLE MENTION: James Reimer stopped 33 shots for the Maple Leafs, and earned a hard-fought ‘W’ over the Black and Gold. The Bruins had their chances to beat Reimer, but missed on a number of occasions early in the contest when they couldn’t get any lift on shots with the Toronto goalie already spread out in the butterfly. They finally struck for a couple of goals in the third period once Claude Julien pulled the goaltender, but Reimer remained one step ahead of the B’s for the entire game.
BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of games that Milan Lucic has now gone without a goal after averaging 29 goals over the last two seasons. Martin Brodeur has more goals than No. 17 in the month of March.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There was a lack of energy and jump in our game. We need more desperation.” –Zdeno Chara, who did not look like a happy man in the Bruins dressing room after the team dropped a 3-2 loss to Toronto, and lost three of four games during the just-concluded road trip.