Leafs settle for single point
(Nikolai Kulemin has 3 goals in 5 games)
Mar. 25: Leafs 2 at Bruins 3 (SO)
Forward lines: van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kessel, Lupul-Kadri-Kulemin, MacArthur-Grabovski-Hamilton, McLaren-McClement-Orr
Defence pairings: Phaneuf-Gunnarsson, Gardiner-Kostka, Franson-Fraser
Goaltenders: Reimer (Shootout Loss, 65:00 minutes played, 27 saves, 2 GA), Scrivens (0:00)
While the Leafs didn’t leave Boston’s TD Garden on Monday night with the result that they wanted, the point that they earned in the 3-2 shootout loss to the Bruins was a psychological boost.
Toronto earned 3 out of a possible four points during the home-and-home series against their Northeast division rivals, a result that few would have predicted when looking at the schedule. As evidence of the Bruins’ stranglehold on the head-to-head matchup, the Leafs had been outscored 22-4 in their previous four visits to Beantown.
Joffrey Lupul opened the scoring, playing in his first game against the Bruins and his 100th career game as a Leaf. Lupul has now scored in each of the four games in which he has played since returning from a forearm injury.
Nikolai Kulemin put the Leafs ahead 2-0 on a breakaway after receiving a nice stretch pass from Nazem Kadri. The assist extended Kadri’s point streak to five games (3 goals, 7 assists).
The Bruins – who have struggled of late – weren’t going to fade away in front of their home fans. Milan Lucic ended a 15-game goal drought with a nice rush down the right wing around Leafs defenceman Cody Franson before putting the puck past goalie James Reimer. It was Lucic’s first goal on home ice since opening night, January 19.
The third period tying goal was a collective Leafs blunder. The miscues started when the forwards went off for an ill-advised line change with Boston defenceman Dougie Hamilton carrying the rush down the left side. Jake Gardiner, who had earlier in the game set up Lupul for his goal, caught up to Hamilton in the corner but then was outmuscled for the puck. With Dion Phaneuf flat-footed in front of the Leafs goal, Patrice Bergeron was left to receive a pass from Hamilton behind the goal line and sneak a stoppable shot past Reimer.
Gardiner, who showed some defensive liability over the course of the game, made up for the turnover with a nice play to stifle a scoring chance from Brad Marchand, helping to preserve the regulation point.
The Leafs’ shootout struggles continued as once again Tyler Bozak was the only Toronto player able to score in the skills competition. At the other end of the ice, Bergeron scored the eventual winner after Tyler Seguin beat Reimer in the first round.
The team heads home to face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.