TORONTO -- The Boston Bruins executed a sound technical game and defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0 at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, avenging late defensive lapses that led to their first regulation loss against the Buffalo Sabres 48 hours earlier.
Tuukka Rask backstopped his club with 21 saves for his 12th career shutout. However, Boston lost a key cog when gritty forward Brad Marchand left the game with an undisclosed injury in the second period and did not return.
With the win, the Bruins improved to an impressive 6-1-1 on the season and moved five points ahead of the Maple Leafs. Boston also has a one-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Bruins coach Claude Julien thought highly of his teams rebound performance after losing 7-4 on Thursday, saying it was "definitely up there," amongst the best hockey they have played all season.
The visitors got all the offense they needed early, scoring the only goal nine minutes into the game on Chris Bourque's first NHL goal since Dec. 30, 2008. Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly picked up the assists.
"I grew up being the biggest Boston Bruins fan so being able to score a goal for the Bruins is something that I am never going to forget for the rest of my life," said the Boston native, who is the son of Bruins' all-time great, Ray Bourque. "I just wanted to drive hard to the net and maybe drag a defenseman to me and open up a little lane ... and it ended up working out – a perfect pass right on my tape, and I just buried it."
Peverley fed a charging Kelly with a beautiful pass, allowing him to beat Colton Orr to the puck. Kelly then slid it across the crease to Bourque, and the latter beat James Reimer (33 saves) to give Boston a 1-0 lead they would never give up.
For extended portions of the game, the Bruins stifled the Maple Leafs at every opportunity, preventing them from breaking out and getting their sticks and bodies in the way of passing and shooting lanes.
"I liked the way that we came back and backchecked hard and didn't allow them to have too much time in our own end and freedom," Julien said. "That's a credit to the guys after having a tough week here with four games."
When the Maple Leafs did manage to put pressure on Rask, he was equal to the task, making several big saves.
One of his finest stops of the night occurred in the second period, when he robbed Phil Kessel with a great glove save on chance from the top of the crease.
"I think I've played solid every night, despite letting in six goals last game." said Rask. "When you get a shutout, there are no mistakes, so mistake wise, maybe yeah (it was my best game). We didn't go on that run and gun, which happened last game, we just stuck with the program and grinded it out," he said of his teammates in front of him.
The Bruins had several golden opportunities to increase their lead throughout the game, but Reimer turned away shot after shot including good chances by Andrew Ference, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton from close range.
"He gave us a chance," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said of Reimer. "That's all you can ask of your goaltender, and I thought he made some big stops, specifically when they transitioned the puck on turnovers and beat us back up the ice."
Marchand went down to injury at 6:30 of the second after he collided with Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek and then the goal post as he swooped in on Reimer. The puck ended up bouncing off a Bruin and into the net, but after review it was deemed that the referee was in the process of whistling the play dead following the incidental contact between Marchand and Reimer. Marchand seemed to be favoring his shoulder on the Bruins' bench, he managed to take a couple of more shifts but did not return to the game.
"It was a cautionary move on our part, instead of making the situation worse," Julien said. "We don't want to lose players for long term injuries by pushing through a minor one."
Julien explained that it was his decision to pull Marchand from the game despite the forward's desire to press on.
"It wasn't to the point where he couldn't play in a pinch ... we don't want to lose players long term so sometimes we are over-cautious," the coach said.
It is not the first time the Bruins have made a pre-emptive move with a potential injury. Daniel Paille remained in Boston in a precautionary move after being high-sticked in the face on Thursday. Shawn Thornton is also sidelined with a concussion.
After the Bruins scored to open the game, Cody Franson thought he had tied it a few minutes later at 11:32 on a low point shot that beat Rask. But the goal was waved off without review as replays clearly showed Nazem Kadri had interfered with the Bruins' goaltender.
Carlyle felt that Rask sold the play to the referee.
"The replay looked as if Kadri had made contact with his stick -- but with the amount of theatrics that were involved in him falling down, it was kind of embarrassing," Carlyle said.