March 6, 2012

Bruins end skid, escape Toronto with 5-4 win

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Boston 5, Toronto 4

Recap: Surprise goal-scorer Carl Gunnarsson got the Leafs on the board 3:01 in, burying a feed from Tim Connolly past Tim Thomas to make it 1-0. Boston picked up the pace in the second half of the first period and knotted things up at 13:58 when Jordan Caron backhanded home a loose puck from the doorstep.

In the second, the two teams combined for six goals. John-Michael Liles got things started with a power-play strike early, putting Toronto ahead 2-1. Tyler Seguin tipped a Zdeno Chara shot past Jonas Gustavsson 1:05 later. Just 41 seconds after that, Chris Kelly buried his 16th of the season to put the B’s ahead 3-2.

After a softy by Phil Kessel tied things up, Caron buried his second of the night on a feed from Chara. With 4:51 left in the second period, Seguin notched his second strike of the game to give the Bruins a 5-3 lead heading into the third.

With 6:47 to go in regulation, Mikhail Grabovski broke in alone and lifted one over Thomas’ glove to make it 5-4. A couple of late penalties on Boston made things extra dicey, but the Black and Gold managed to hang on and earn a vital two points.

Records: Boston 39-23-3, 81 points; Toronto 30-29-7, 67 points

Key Play of the Game: When the Leafs decided playing All-Star-Game caliber defense would be a good idea?

In all seriousness, Caron’s second of the night was likely the biggest moment – even if it didn’t wind up being the game winner. Kessel had just scored a few minutes prior to once again knot things up, but Chara got the puck down low in the corner and found No. 38 for a much needed, dirty goal.

Connolly’s Commendations: For the second-straight game (and maybe the second time ever), Caron was the driving force for the Black and Gold. The 6-foot-3 winger had three points, adding an assist to his two-goal night, giving him five points in the last two games. He had five in his first 30 games of the season!

Boston’s first line came in red hot and kept it up tonight. The trio of Seguin, David Krejci and Milan Lucic were beasts all night long. The line combined for four points.

Dennis Seidenberg was in top form in the 5-4 win. The German blueliner beat the snot out of Colby Armstrong in a bout, dished out a game-high six hits (as did rookie Lane MacDermid), blocked three shots and finished plus-2.

Connolly’s Critiques: Maybe it’s a cumulative thing, but Brian Rolston hasn’t proven to be an effective presence alongside the duo of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. No. 12 was very quiet in his 15:34 of ice time.

It was another rough showing for Thomas – not exactly great news with Rask on the shelf. Thomas allowed more than three goals for the second-straight game. The last time he did that was May 14-17, 2011, in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning.

Notes: Benoit Pouliot played less than five minutes on Tuesday night and was not visible on the bench during the third period. Joe Corvo picked up career assist No. 200. Milan Lucic’s helper on Seguin’s second goal gave him 200 career points.

Final Thoughts: Boston made a mockery of Toronto’s terrible defense and goaltending a number of times, but still only managed to narrowly escape with the win. Nevertheless, two points is two points, and the B’s are surely glad to have avoided their third-straight loss.

Next: The Bruins will now return home from their two-game road trip. They’ll take on the Sabres on Thursday night.