Redden proved his GM prophetic Wednesday when he not only scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal in six seasons but collected his first multipoint playoff performance in seven to help the Bruins to a 4-1 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at TD Garden.
"It was fun to be back out there … that's for sure," Redden told more than a dozen reporters surrounding his locker stall after the game. "I said before, I'm going to get the most out of it. I've been away for a while, so it was good to get back out there."
David Krejci had a goal and two assists, Nathan Horton and Johnny Boychuk each scored once, and Milan Lucic chipped in with two assists to lead the fourth-seeded Bruins. Goalie Tuukka Rask earned his eighth career playoff win with 19 saves. The Bruins will look to gain a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series Saturday when Game 2 is held here.
The fifth-seeded Maple Leafs, who opened the game strong but fizzled fast, finished 1-for-3 on the power play. Boston dominated in every fashion, hitting players whenever given the chance and outnumbering them for most loose pucks in the Toronto end. Outside of allowing the opening goal of the game, Boston coach Claude Julien had to be pleased with his team's effort throughout.
"We seemed to be turning the corner the past four games or so, and when you're on a winning streak and you keep winning, you start to see some things happening and it takes a while before you start paying the price for it," Julien said. "[Wednesday], the guys were focused, they were ready, and at the same time, we've been here before, there's some experience behind it. I thought we played a solid game."
The Bruins not only looked to be the better team, but certainly the more experienced. The Maple Leafs had 10 players making their playoff debuts: Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski, Carl Gunnarsson, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Michael Kostka, Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur, Frazer McLaren and goalie James Reimer.
"I just thought we self-destructed," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "We had a decent start; we scored the first goal and got ourselves on the right track. We had a good forecheck early in the hockey game and then we just stopped. We started to turn the puck over and we fed them and they took advantage of the miscues."
Reimer, under siege much of the evening, finished with 36 saves. Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said his goalie did the best job he could under the circumstances.
"As a group, and that includes me, we have to be better," Reimer said. "I don't think there's one thing from [Wednesday] that stands out. You just have to find a way to make some of those saves and some of those goals that go in are pucks I could definitely stop. I think it was a tough night and I don't think there was one glaring thing I need to work on. I think we just reset as a group and come back Saturday with a better effort."
Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel, the former Bruins player who was serenaded with chants of "Kess-el! Kess-el!", was held to one shot in 13:51 of ice time.
"I didn't really pay attention to [the fans]," Kessel said.
The Bruins did what they do best to open the second period, sustaining a ferocious forecheck and getting to every loose puck in the offensive end on the way to scoring twice to open a 4-1 advantage. After yielding the first goal of the game, the Bruins completely took control in every way, shape or form.
"We gave up the early one, but you want to bounce back," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "I thought that we did that and played pretty strong for 60 minutes."
Krejci's turnaround wrist shot from the slot off a feed from Lucic at 10:25 gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead. A little over five minutes later, Boychuk teed up a perfectly placed drop pass by Krejci just inside the blue line at the right point and beat Reimer high to the short side.
"I'm just trying to go out there, do my best and help the team to win games," Krejci said. "As a line [with Lucic and Horton], I think we did a good job. We put the puck in the net. In the playoffs, there's always somebody new to be a hero, so I feel we had a good game, but if we want a good run, we know we're going to need all four lines."
Boston took the lead with 11.7 seconds left when Horton deflected a shot past Reimer with his team on the power play. The goal came nine seconds after Toronto's James van Riemsdyk hit the goalpost with a wrist shot.
Redden took the initial shot from the top of the right circle that Horton deftly knocked down with the blade. Replays of the goal confirmed it was a legal play by Horton, who scored the ninth postseason goal of his career. The assist by Redden marked his first two-point performance in a playoff game since May 5, 2006, when he had three assists as a member of the Ottawa Senators against Buffalo Sabres.
"There's a lot of experience in here and guys have been through it all before," Redden said. "Obviously, you want to do it all the time, but we put it together tonight."
Redden was acquired from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a conditional NHL Draft pick. Because he has played at least one game in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, that pick becomes a 2014 sixth-round choice.
Redden, 35, played the first 11 years of his career for Ottawa.
He scored his first playoff goal in six seasons to pull the Bruins into a 1-1 tie with 3:40 remaining in the first period. Gregory Campbell attempted a wraparound at the right post, but the puck came off his stick to Redden near the boards at the top of the left circle. His rising slap shot found space between Reimer's glove hand and pad before skittering over the goal line. The goal was Redden's first postseason marker since May 28, 2007, when he played for the Senators.
The Maple Leafs opened the scoring with a power-play goal by van Riemsdyk 1:54 into the first. Tyler Bozak won an offensive-zone draw, and Cody Franson backhanded a centering attempt that deflected to van Riemsdyk. The big center, standing uncontested in the slot, redirected the puck over the line for his 12th career playoff goal and first with Toronto. The goal came 16 seconds after Bergeron was sent to the box for tripping.
"I think we just got away from our game a bit and what makes us a successful team," van Riemsdyk said. "We will have to get back to that next game."
Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid helped his team regain a little of the momentum back after the van Riemsdyk goal when he unloaded with a heavy hit on Maple Leafs forward Jay McClement 27 seconds later along the wall in the neutral zone. It almost worked too; Marchand rang a shot off the short side goal post on Reimer from the bottom of the right circle at 4:42.