BOSTON It would seem that the odds finally caught up to the Bruins.
For nine games the Bruins defense chewed up and spit out Phil Kessel every chance they got, and completely shutdown the winger in the goal-scoring department.
And everybody knows that Kessel without the goal-scoring ability isnt much of a hockey player at all. But the young right wing instead heeded the advice of the Toronto coaching staff, and changed the tape on his stick from white to black just prior to Tuesday nights game.
The change in tape led to Kessel potting a pair of goals including the game-tying strike in the third period on the way to a 4-3 victory for Toronto in a home tilt at the Garden that went completely awry.
The first goal opened up Torontos scoring in the first period, and the second goal was a sweet individual move that saw Phil the Thrill blow right by Dennis Seidenberg on the way to scoring a goal past Tim Thomas. With the two goals, Kessel had his first goals against his former team and also blew up a 14-game goal-scoring drought in the process.
The youngster was the first to admit that his lack of success at the Garden was undeniable, but didnt seem to publicly bask in the boos raining down on him after he made his former team pay the price with two goals.
I havent done anything in this building yet, until tonight, said Kessel. They are a very good team over there and we were fortunate to come out of here with a win.
Toronto coach Ron Wilson saw a pair of players in Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski that were giving that extra little bit of hustle, and doing battle with Zdeno Chara despite the fact the big defenseman level Grabovski at least twice throughout the game.
That was without a doubt Phils best game, not just because he scored, said Wilson. He was in on the forecheck, he was in banging around with Zdeno Chara and he did a good job in our end, too. He won some battles on the boards and he changed the color of the tape on his stick. I dont know if anybody noticed, he went from white to black.
Kessel certainly noticed the change in his sticks, and perhaps thats something more players will take into account when theyre putting together a summer plan.
Patrice Bergeron potted his 20th goal of the season in the third period, and in doing so put together the third 20-goal season of his career. It was also the first time that Bergeron has potted 20 goals in a season since prior to the horrific concussion suffered at the hands of Randy Jones and the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007-08.
The goal was a beauty with Bergeron simply defeating Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf during a battle in front of the net for a rebound, and then Bergeron popped in a second-effort attempt to give Boston short-lived lead. From there it was collapse, and thats what the Bruins need to work on despite Bergerons abilities to compete and succeed.
You hope so. And were a team that normally is capable of closing when you take the lead in the third. The goals that we gave up after that were just bad goals, and its not just one mistake, said Claude Julien. Its two and three. There was different ways of preventing those.
We all have to take blame in the way that our team is playing right now and Im going to put myself in that as well. Right now we need to be a little bit more emotionally involved in these games.
Peter Chiarelli indicated that because Chris Kelly was a Canadian native playing for a Canadian team in Ottawa, visa problems would likely make it impossible for the Senators center to participate in practice on Wednesday.
Daniel Paille returned from a four-game suspension and potted the teams first goal of the night to give the Bruins an early 1-0 lead.
I definitely wanted to make an impact as soon as possible, whether it was a check or just keep moving my feet and getting to the puck first, said Paille. You know I did that but I needed to continue to do it throughout the whole game and we kept getting power plays and penalty kills so it was tough to get out there five on five.
Johnny Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the first time this season on Tuesday night against the Leafs with Adam McQuaid, Mark Stuart and Steve Kampfer playing effectively for Bostons blueline corps.
I think his battle is still good and stuff like that, said Julien. But I think, again, when it comes to puck decision hes had his fair share of challenges there.