BOSTON – That four-game losing streak the Boston Bruins were suffering through is now a distant memory.
Boston had only won back-to-back games once since December, but Monday night followed up a dramatic victory against Philadelphia with a rout of Toronto at the TD Garden.
The Bruins got a goal from Chris Kelly 2:25 into their matchup with the Maple Leafs and by the end of the night had received a point from 15 different players in an 8-0 romp that completed a six-game season-series sweep of their Northeast Division rivals.
In the six games, Boston outscored Toronto, 36-10.
"We talked about putting, I guess you can call it a homestand, away, the way the schedule's kind of gone of late," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "You could tell in our game tonight and also on Saturday afternoon that we really wanted to turn things around, and maybe it was a blessing in disguise that Ottawa did pass us because maybe there was that fire that needed to be re-lit."
Last Friday night, Ottawa beat Montreal to knock the Bruins out of first place in the Northeast Division for the first time since Nov. 30. The next day Boston downed Philadelphia in a shootout to regain the division's top spot. The Bruins now have a three-point lead with one game in hand.
During the four-game losing streak, which was their longest stretch of regulation defeats since January 2010, the Bruins were outscored, 21-8. Following a one-goal victory and a laugher, things are definitely looking up for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
At one point against the Leafs, the Bruins were so dominating they led 6-0 while Toronto had managed just five shots on net. A couple fortunate bounces contributed to the drubbing as well.
"I think we deserved a game like that because we went through a stretch there that seemed like everything went wrong," said forward Brian Rolston, who recorded one goal and three assists. "And I think a big key for us was the game against Philly. We came back and won that game, and when you get wins you get more confidence as a team. And we came out, it felt good tonight and you can just build on that as you go."
The Leafs had actually turned a corner recently with wins in their previous two outings and just two goals allowed by James Reimer, who got the start against the Bruins. By the time Reimer departed at the 12:42 mark of the first period, he had allowed four goals on just nine shots.
After Kelly's goal, Gregory Campbell scored at 5:40, Benoit Pouliot scored the first of his two goals on the night at 10:58, and Brad Marchand chased Reimer with a power-play tally. Leafs coach Randy Carlyle put the blame on himself and his staff.
"We can't really point to any one thing right now that we did well. As a coaching staff we have to take responsibility because we didn't prepare the hockey club properly to go out and compete," said Carlyle. "That's the reality of the situation. When you start right from the first puck drop and turned it over on the very first shift ... just led to one mistake after another. It seemed like we were playing in our boots and they were playing in their skates."
A little less than a minute after the Bruins built their lead to 4-0, Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek tried to rally his team by fighting Lucic. The two had gone at it several times during Komisarek's days with Montreal. The battle didn't end well for Komisarek, who took several blows to the face, or the Leafs, who managed to total just two shots on net for the entire first period.
"At that point, you're down a couple goals and we don't have any shots on net. (Luke Schenn) steps up and tries to show up, and I'm not going to wait for (Mikhail Grabovski) to go out there and fight their tough guy," said Komisarek, referring back to Saturday night when Grabovski's fight with Ottawa's Chris Neil helped spark a Leafs win. "You go out there and just try to show up, and give a couple licks, take a couple licks, and step up I guess. So, it's pretty tough."
Jonas Gustavsson fared as poorly as Reimer, as he allowed four goals on 15 shots. Pouliot added his second goal, while Rolston, Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin also scored. The Bruins twice scored seven or more goals against Toronto in the one-side season-series. Tim Thomas recorded his fifth shutout of the season.
Boston will leave Wednesday on a three-game road trip to face the California teams on a winning note.
"These two games were important games," said Kelly. "You know, obviously going out West is no easy feat. I thought we handled ourselves well against Philly and again tonight, so hopefully it's a stepping stone in the right direction and we can have a good practice (Tuesday) and build on those two games."