TORONTO — A little too slow to find their legs, not to mention long on chances — but still short on finish at the net — the Bruins on Saturday night fell in overtime for a second time in three nights, 4-3, rubbed out by the Maple Leafs on Morgan Rielly’s winner with 1:06 remaining in the extra session.
Rielly, who also provided the Leafs’ first goal of the night, connected with help from Mitch Marner, with Toronto dominating possession in OT after being dramatically outshot, 44-27, through 60 minutes of regulation.
On a night when they never managed a lead, the Bruins did finally manage to wring out some secondary scoring, with strikes by Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen helping to negate a 2-0 lead the Leafs built by 15:44 of the opening period.
But only 61 seconds after Heinen’s goal pulled the Black and Gold into the 2-2 tie early in the third, ex-Harvard captain Alexander Kerfoot again pushed the Leafs out front, forcing the Bruins to respond with David Pastrnak’s team-high ninth goal of the season at 15:34, setting up the overtime.
So while they were able to rally, and while they did pocket a point at Scotiabank Arena with some much-needed scoring from their supporting cast, overall the Bruins were inconsistent against a Blue-and-White team they have dismissed in the opening round of the playoffs the last two seasons.
“I didn’t like that stretch — we weren’t hard, we weren’t competitive enough,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, dwelling on the soft start that put his squad two goals in arrears. “We were trading chances. We have to be harder on the puck. In the offensive zone, we were one and done. As the game went on, second and third period, we were harder on ’em.”
After trailing for the better part of the first two periods, the Bruins finally pulled even, 2-2, with Heinen’s second strike of the season on a power play at 1:36 of the third. Set up by a cross-slot feed from Brett Ritchie, Heinen snapped his shot by Frederik Andersen from the right wing faceoff dot.
But only 1:01 later, the Leafs answered right back, with Kerfoot shoveling home a doorstep backhander after Boston tender Jaro Halak first blocked Jake Muzzin’s long-range wrister
When the night began, the Bruins led the league in lead time, by a whopping advantage of 287:02-21:10 (roughly a 14:1 ratio). But in Blue-and-White country, they never managed to have the upper hand and ended up trailing for a total 47:02.
The Leafs, only the second team to score the night’s opening goal against the Bruins thus far this season, moved to a 2-0 lead before DeBrusk potted his first of the season before the period ended. Charlie Coyle made the key play, dishing to the net front with a backhander from the goal line.
“Definitely a monkey off my back,’ said DeBrusk, the second line left winger who shot blanks in the first seven games.
DeBrusk, who landed four other shots on net, easily could have had one or two more, including what looked like an easy putaway during a power play in the second.
“I don’t know how it didn’t go in, to be honest with you,” said DeBrusk. “I’ve had a couple of those looks this year and I’ve got to start awarding the boys for giving me those looks. It seems like a very easy play, but in the moment when it’s coming at you pretty fast, the puck doesn’t want to cooperate with me right now. I don’t know if I have to turn my stick to righthanded . . . but I’ll do whatever it takes to cash in the next one. Because that was 2-1 in the second and could have made it a different game.”
Rielly, now playing on the club’s top defensive pairing, opened the scoring at 5:55 of the first. Marner dished up a pass from the left side, deep in the offensive end, and Rielly snapped off a 55-footer that angled into the net, ricocheting off Brandon Carlo’s midsection and by Halak.
Nearly 10 minutes later, at 15:44, rookie Dmytro Timashov bumped it up to 2-0 with his first career goal. Helped by a Sean Kuraly muff in Boston’s defensive end, Timashov raced right-left across the slot and lasered a sharp wrister to the top righthand corner.
The Bruins were much better in the second period, forcing the puck into Toronto’s end of the ice much of the time, but failed to convert on a number of prime scoring chances. When it was over, the Bruins held a 33-18 shot edge, but were still down the one goal, 2-1.
“It’s coming . . . it’s coming,” said defenseman Charlie McAvoy, focusing on the improved secondary scoring. “We got some tonight and it’s going to come more and more and in waves. We have to stay patient. Can’t lose confidence. Can’t lose it. Have to play with creativity, have to trust in yourself and your teammates. It’s just going to come.”