November 30, 2011

Post-Game Breakdown: First line leads way in win over Leafs

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Boston 6, Toronto 3

Recap: After once again falling behind early thanks to a Mikhail Grabovski goal, the Bruins knotted things up with 4:52 left in the first on a PP goal from Milan Lucic. David Krejci put Boston ahead 3:33 into the third, but Joffrey Lupul’s strike on a 2-on-1 with Phil Kessel just 3:27 later made it 2-2. Boston took the lead again, however, when Zdeno Chara’s fifth of the season beat Jonas Gustavsson to make it 3-2.

In the third, Benoit Pouliot gave the B’s a two-goal edge with a wicked wrister 3:03 in. But once again, the Leafs answered quickly, as Matt Frattin beat Tim Thomas 2:57 later to cut the deficit to one. Boston turned it on late to put the game away, as Lucic’s second of the night with 4:39 remaining and an empty-netter from Brad Marchand closed out the scoring.

Records: Boston 15-7-1, 31 points; Toronto 14-9-2, 30 points

Key Play of the Game: With less than five minutes remaining in the second, David Krejci carried the puck up the right side and made a beautiful pass to set up the B’s third goal. The Czech pivot spotted Zdeno Chara rushing in behind the play and looped the puck around a defender’s skates right to the charging d-man.

Connolly’s Commendations: The win was highlighted by a much-needed, tremendous night for the first line of Krejci, Lucic and Nathan Horton. Each forward ended a lengthy, personal cold streak with authority. Lucic had two goals, Horton had two helpers and Krejci — who everyone under the sun is anxious to attempt to swap for Bobby Ryan — led the way with a goal and two assists.

There’s simply no stopping Chara these days. The Bruins 6-foot-9 defenseman had a goal and an assist against the Leafs, capping off a mesmerizing month of November in which he had 14 points in 13 games.

Rich Peverley and Greg Campbell were dynamite at the dot. The two centers combined to win 17-of-22 (77%) of their faceoffs.

Connolly’s Critiques: Tyler Seguin picked up an assist to build upon his wealth of success against the Leafs in his career, but overall it was a quiet night for the forward, who had just one shot on goal in 15:07 of ice time.

Notes: The Bruins finished up a month without a regulation loss (12-0-1) for the first time since 1969. Thomas extended his winning streak to a career-best nine games.

Final Thoughts: What a difference a month makes. The B’s meteoric rise up the standings has not only completely erased the memories of the miserable Stanley Cup hangover, but has many believing that thoughts of a repeat might not be so crazy after all.

Next: The Bruins will complete their home-and-home series with the Leafs on Saturday night at TD Garden.