Season Series: Wednesday's clash at Air Canada Centre marks the third of six meetings between these Northeast Division rivals and kicks off a crucial home-and-home series. Toronto and Boston will face off again on Saturday at TD Garden. The Bruins earned convincing wins over the Maple Leafs on Oct. 20 and Nov. 5, outscoring Toronto by a 13-2 margin. Tyler Seguin paced the Bruins in their two victories over the Leafs by combining for 4 goals and 2 assists.
Big Story: The Leafs host the Bruins for the second time this season, hoping to put two lopsided affairs in their rearview mirror and maintain their lead in the Northeast division in the process. Boston trails Toronto for first place in the division by a point with two games in hand. While the Leafs are fresh off a 3-1-0 road trip, the Bruins have been the League's hottest team in November, registering an 11-0-1 record in that span.
Bruins: The defending champions had their 10-game win streak snapped in shootout on Friday in the 2011 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown against the Detroit Red Wings. A day later, they received a rude wake-up call when the Winnipeg Jets scored twice in a span of 39 seconds to take a 2-0 lead in the first period at TD Garden. But from there, the Bruins responded in a big way.
Zdeno Chara notched a power-play goal late in the opening frame, Chris Kelly scored twice thereafter and the Bruins reeled off four unanswered overall to churn out a 4-2 win. Tim Thomas, who captured his eighth straight win, stopped 40 of 42 shots as Boston's physicality continued to pay dividends in the win column.
"Every two points is important," Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas told NHL.com. "At the end of the year those points add up, if it's right after a shootout loss or right after another win. It will definitely feel better over the next couple of days knowing that we have that win in our back pocket."
Maple Leafs: Toronto has experienced its share of injuries early on this season, but its offense has shouldered the load. That trend continued in the final game of a four-game road swing on Sunday in Anaheim.
The Leafs, who rank third in the League in both goals-per-game (3.17) and power-play conversion percentage (22.8), responded to a Ducks' first period goal with four unanswered of their own – with two coming from Tyler Bozak – to turn the tide of the game. With James Reimer still on injured reserve, netminder Jonas Gustavsson stopped 26 of 28 shots to claim his fourth win in as many decisions.
"Obviously it's a big trip for us, and it's nice to have three big wins," Joffrey Lupul told NHL.com. "We were pretty solid tonight. It's been a lot of travel, kind of all the way down the south coast swing. We were strong all the way through the third period, so that's a good sign."
Who’s Hot: Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has been consistent in the offensive zone with 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists) in his last 16 games. … Lupul has compiled two goals and eight assists for Toronto during his current six-game point streak.
Injury Report: Mikhail Grabovski (lower body) was activated off IR on Sunday and will play Wednesday against Boston. Reimer (concussion-like symptoms) has returned to practice and is expected to be activated in the next five days for Toronto. Colby Armstrong (ankle), Mike Komisarek (broken arm) and Matthew Lombardi (shoulder) are also on IR for Toronto and are expected to miss Wednesday's game. David Steckel and Carl Gunnarsson remain day-to-day with upper-body injuries.
Stat Pack: After being shut out six times in their first 24 games last year, the Maple Leafs have been blanked only once this season in that span. Toronto's lone scoreless outing came in a 7-0 defeat in their last meeting with Boston on Nov. 5.
Puck Drop: "Those are two of the worst losses we've taken this year and we just want to redeem ourselves," Cody Franson told the Toronto Sun. "I don't know if you'd call it a grudge match … I think it's for a little bit of pride in our room. We've been spanked by [Boston] twice."