MAPLE LEAFS 3, BRUINS 2
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TORONTO — It’s Hall of Fame induction weekend here in Canada’s biggest city, with the game of hockey taking a moment to salute its biggest stars, revel in its history, wax over the wonders of decades gone by.
The Bruins, within a minute of picking up a victory, couldn’t share in all the ballyhoo Friday night, limping out of Air Canada Center with a 3-2 overtime loss, delivered on a Patrick Marleau tip-in only 67 seconds into the 3-on-3 overtime session.
“That’s what overtime is designed for,” noted a disappointed Brad Marchand, who just missed scoring the win some 20 seconds before Marleau made his winning tip. “They capitalized on theirs.”
The loss, the second in a row for the Bruins (0-1-1), dropped their record to 6-5-4 and detracted from a stellar effort by Boston goalie Anton Khudobin (30 saves). The Leafs had a decided edge in prime scoring chances and if not for “Doby’s” efforts, the Leafs easily could have run away with it in the first two periods.
The Leafs erased Boston leads of 1-0 and 2-1, the Bruins within 60 seconds of winning it in regulation until ex-UNH standout James van Riemsdyk knocked home his second of the night with Frederik Andersen out of the Leafs net. Camped out front, the hulking JVR made the tip of a Mitch Marner slap pass for the equalizer
On the winner, David Pastrnak, who earlier knocked home his 10th of the season for the 2-1 lead, attempted a dipsy-doodle move deep in Toronto’s end. Had he pulled it off, he might have launched the winner. Instead, as he fell to the ice after losing the puck, the Leafs blitzed up ice on a 3-on-2 break and this time it was Jake Gardiner who ripped off the slap pass that Marleau knocked home.
“I didn’t see how far he was on the back door, I didn’t see that,” said Khudobin, now 3-0-2, referring to Marleau. “Like I always say, there is always something you can do to stop any goal, but you’re also always going to get beat on something. You can’t play on zero every game, so give them credit, they made a pretty good pass.”
The two sides face each other again Saturday night at the Garden, the Bruins well aware they need to pick up points, and quickly. With a long list of early injuries, they now find themselves out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. History shows that teams below the playoff cut line as of Thanksgiving typically have a very hard time avoiding a post-season DNQ. Five weeks into the season, they have yet to win back-to-back games.
“A few mistakes ended up costing us the game,” said Marchand, back in the lineup after missing two games to a suspected concussion. “We have to continue to tighten up, work on our game. We are playing well, we are right there, so that’s a plus. But we need to win games. We can’t be giving away points like this.”
Pastrnak’s power-play goal with 5:30 remaining in regulation, his team-high 10th goal this season, broke a 1-1 deadlock and had the Bruins poised for the win.
But with a minute remaining in regulation, and Andersen out of the Toronto net, van Riemsdyk scored his second of the night to knot it at 2-2 and send it into OT.
Pastrnak, camped just off the left post as a power play counted down its final seconds, collected a puck off a Jordan Szwarz attempt and snapped it home and temporarily silenced a stunned sellout crowd on the go-ahead (2-1 goal).
But JVR soon was back to tie it.
After a scoreless first period, it looked as if the two side would carry the 0-0 deadlock in to the third period until some late offensive fireworks.
The Bruins finally broke on the board first — for only the sixth time this season, when Bergeron drilled in a one-timer from high in the right wing circle. Marchand, carrying the puck up the right wing board from the corner, dished a short relay and Bergeron stepped right into his fourth of the season at 15:38.
The Leafs, working with a power play, their fourth of the night, knotted it on a scramble in front for a rebound off of a Morgan Rielly long-range shot. With the Boston backliners struggling for possession, it was finally van Riemsdyk who slid it by Khudobin for the equalizer.
Torey Krug picked up an assist on Bergeron’s goal, extending his point streak to six games (2-6—8).
“The tying goal (2-2), three of our guys had the puck, guys we trust to get the job done,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “We didn’t get it out. We were soft on it. I can’t sugarcoat it. If you have to ice it, fine, we’re not against that in those situations . . . but we didn’t, then we didn’t get it out, they made a play. They had one more [skater] than us, and they found him.”
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