BOSTON, MA - MAY 1: Nathan Horton #18 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammate David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins after scoring a goal past James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 1, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photograph by: (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images), Canada.com
BOSTON — David Krejci had a goal and two assists as the Boston Bruins spoiled Toronto’s long-awaited return to the NHL playoffs, scoring four unanswered goals to defeat the sloppy Maple Leafs 4-1 on Wednesday night.
The Bruins went behind early but clawed their way back into the game before a capacity crowd of 17,565 in yellow-and-black at TD Garden — Boston’s 154th straight sellout. The experienced Bruins turned the screws on the Leafs, who were not at their best, as the game wore on.
The Leafs, whose return to the post-season may be short-lived, were hanging on for stretches of the third period.
“I just thought we self-destructed … We know that this is going to take more than an ordinary effort and tonight our effort wasn’t anywhere near close enough to put us in a competitive position,” said Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle.
Fans may have partied early in Toronto but last call was reserved for Bruins fans on this night.
Wade Redden, Nathan Horton and Johnny Boychuk also scored for Boston on a night where video review ratified one Bruins goal and disallowed two more.
Krejci, meanwhile, registered his 13th career multi-point playoff game in his 60th appearance in the post-season.
James Van Riemsdyk scored for Toronto, whose big guns were silent.
The game pitted the fourth-seeded Bruins (28-14-6, 62 points) against the fifth-seeded Leafs (28-17-5, 57 points).
Their records this season may have been similar but the two teams have come from different hockey neighbourhoods.
It was Toronto’s first appearance in the post-season since 2004 when the Leafs were beaten in six games by the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bruins, who won the Stanley Cup in 2011, were eliminated in the first round by the Washington Capitals last season.
“I hope MapleLeafs fans enjoy their 1st playoff game in HD this evening,” tweeted Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Not so much. But perhaps not surprising given the jaw-dropping gap in post-season experience between the two.
Going into the game, 15 players on Toronto’s current 25-man roster had never seen playoff action. Boston entered the series with 1,273 games of playoff experience on its roster, compared to just 206 for the Leafs.
The Boston roster boasts 22 Stanley Cup rings.
The puck dropped just hours after more developments in the Boston bombings investigation.
Three college friends of the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect now face charges: two with conspiring to obstruct justice and the third with making false statements.
Boston Strong was met by Toronto Tough on the night as Leafs coach Randy Carlyle dressed both Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, who ranked No. 1 and 8 respectively in penalty minutes during the regular season. The two dropped the gloves a combined 25 times in 48 games.
Orr and McLaren saw limited action but did their best to initiate contact before and after the whistle, while Orr was ejected in the final minutes of the game after being involved in a scrum. The abrasive Leo Komarov may have won the pest award for the evening, looking to torment anyone in black and yellow. Komarov was less effective in the third, when he picked up an early misconduct.
The first period wasn’t pretty, but grew in drama.
Toronto went ahead early on the power play as Van Riemsdyk tucked a puck into an open net at 1:54 after a Phil Kessel shot was tipped by Tyler Bozak and ended up behind the goal with Cody Franson. The defenceman tried to tuck it in but instead the puck went to Van Riemsdyk, who had endured plenty of punishment to retain his position in front of goal. The big Leafs forward then took advantage of an out-of-position Tuukka Rask.
Both teams performed poorly in the final days of the regular season — the Bruins lost seven of nine and the Leafs four of six — and there was sloppy play aplenty in the early going after the goal. Toronto seemed destined to be punished first, coughing up the puck in a variety of ways.
Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference administered some rough justice of his own, elbowing Mikhail Grabovski in the head by the boards. He went unpunished.
The 35-year-old Redden tied it up at 16:20, squeezing a shot at a tight angle from the edge of the faceoff circle through James Reimer. The Toronto goalie may have had his view of the shot impeded by defenceman Michael Kostka.
There was a turning point late in the period with Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf in the penalty box for slashing. Reimer did his bit, stopping one effort in spectacular fashion by making like a snow angel on his back in the crease. Van Riemsdyk raced up the ice and whipped a shot off the Boston crossbar.
The penalty was seven seconds from expiring when the Bruins fired back, with Horton tipping in a Redden shot at 19:48. Officials reviewed the goal, to see if Horton’s stick was over the crossbar when it made contact with the puck, but the play stood.
Boston outshot Toronto 40-20, including 14-6 in the third period and 26-14 after 40 minutes.
Boston appeared to have profited from a Nazem Kadri turnover early in the second period but video review showed that Tyler Seguin’s shot had hit the crossbar.
Toronto began to bottle the Bruins up in their own zone but failed to convert that into shots on goal. A Bozak breakaway was disrupted by a chasing Kaspars Daugavins at the last second.
Boston then took advantage of a Leaf change with Krejci beating Reimer on a low turnaround shot at 10:25 as the Bruins attackers were allowed to race into the Toronto defensive zone unmolested.
Boychuk made it 4-1 when he beat Reimer on the glove side with a slapshot from the blue-line at 15:44.
Boychuk flattened Grabovski at the boards at 3:45 of the third, sparking a melee that saw Orr take two minors and Ference one. Orr’s choice of retaliation over discipline did not help the Toronto comeback cause.
A Patrice Bergeron goal was called off minutes later. Reimer had the puck between his legs, only to have the Bruin poke it through into the goal. But it was ruled the play was dead.
Bozak, the Leafs first-line centre, played after declaring himself fit from an upper-body injury, believed to be a shoulder, that had kept him out of the final two regular season games. As the Leafs’ top faceoff man, with a 52.6 per cent win rate, Bozak was a welcome addition.
Boston’s Bergeron led the league in faceoff percentage during the regular season, winning 62.1 per cent of his draws. Bozak was 27th overall.
Bozak won plenty of faceoffs, often in his defensive zone. But he seemed to be outmuscled a couple of times in open play, a suggestion he was not yet 100 per cent.
Boston has had the better of the regular-season matchup in recent years.
The Bruins are now 27-6-5 in their last 38 games against Toronto and 12-1-1 in their last 14 on home ice. They won three of four against the Leafs this season, but three of those games were decided by one goal with the other going to a shootout.
NOTES — It was the first playoff meeting between the two Original Six rivals since 1974, when Boston swept the series … Toronto’s last post-season series win over Boston was in 1959 when the Leafs rallied to win in seven games.