By Matt Noonan
BOSTON, MA – It certainly seems that the Boston Bruins are having trouble remaining consistent or at least keeping their momentum going, especially as the current season slowly winds down. Yet, on Thursday, the Bruins hosted an opponent that easily should have been an additional win in the win column, but instead, the Toronto Maple Leafs came to the TD Garden and won, 4-3 in shootouts.
“We don’t have a great shootout team. We’ve talked to our goaltenders, we’ve talked around—it’s not our strength. And, it is what it is. It doesn’t matter,” said Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien.
“It was a playoff atmosphere,” said Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson. “If that’s the only playoffs we see, it can make the team better.”
Toronto’s Luke Schenn scored an unassisted goal seven minutes into the opening period to give the Maple Leafs an early lead, as well as some confidence. The early goal also brought an end to Tim Thomas’s shutout streak between the pipes.
“Well it’s kind of like every time we play Toronto we don’t start out the way that we want, they get goals off of shin pads and skates,” said Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.
Entering the second period, the Bruins bounced back, as Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Andrew Ference all scored goals for Boston. The points were indeed necessary, but despite the excitement and fireworks that were on display, Toronto refused to allow Boston a comfortable lead, which led to Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak to set up Joffrey Lupul, who pushed the puck past Thomas to keep the Leafs in contention for the final period.
“The first period was obviously something we weren’t very happy with and I think from then on, second period was a very good run and that’s the type of play I think we’ve had in a lot of the games that we recently played,” said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference.
Toronto came out for the final 20-minutes with a mission, which was to stop Boston, as well as pick up yet another win against their rival. Lupul would record his second goal of the game at roughly the eight-minute mark of the third period, which then forced both teams to play a short overtime.
After 65-minutes of intense hockey, the game was then settled through an old fashion shootout.
Both Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder were unable to get the puck past James Reimer, which allowed Toronto’s Nazem Kadri the opportunity to secure a win, when he beat Thomas on backhand goal during the Maple Leafs second scoring opportunity.
Boston then had one final chance to force another round of shootouts, but Rich Peverley’s shot was denied and Toronto skated off the Garden’s ice with their second win in two months in Boston.
“We’ve set the bar and I think what you try to do at this time of the season is obviously try to meet those expectations,” explained Ference after the game. “Obviously we know we have potential to play a certain style of hockey and when we do it’s very effective, so when we don’t obviously you get dull periods like the first [period] where you just aren’t clicking, it’s just very obvious, so there’s no secrets in how we have to play at this time of year.”
The Bruins will return to the ice on Saturday when they host the Atlanta Thrashers for a 1:00pm face-off.