The Bruins nearly blew a 3-0 lead in the third period, but Mark Recchi scored twice in the final three minutes and Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots as Boston won 5-2 on Thursday night for its seventh win in a row over the Leafs.
Goals by Mark Stuart, Derek Morris and David Krejci put Boston ahead 3-0 after two periods. But Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin scored early in the third period to get the Leafs back in the game.
"Three-goal leads are the worst," Recchi said. "We were OK for two periods. In the third they came out and we weren't ready for it. It's nice that we responded after they did come back."
Rask was under siege at times in the third before Recchi scored with 2:37 to play and then added an empty-netter with 12 seconds left as the Bruins improved to 8-1-1 in the last 10 games and took over first place in the Northeast Division.
The Leafs put up a lot more fight than they had in Saturday's 7-2 wipeout in Boston, but the result was the same.
"We've only got one win in our division, which is awful," defenseman Ian White said. "We got spanked by these guys not even a week ago. We were expecting to come in here and have a different showing. It's unfortunate. It could be a number of factors, I'm not exactly sure what the problem is but we have to find ways to win."
It was the second time in six days Boston took a big lead on the Maple Leafs and former Bruins forward Phil Kessel. On Saturday, the Bruins scored the first seven goals and coasted. This time, Toronto cut the deficit to 3-2 before giving up a late power play when Jason Blake was called for high-sticking with 4:01 left, and Recchi put the game away by redirecting Blake Wheeler's pass behind Vesa Toskala.
"The third period we went back on the attack and did the things we needed to do," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "Obviously, scoring 18 seconds in got our team fired up and them back on their heels a little bit so it opened up the game."
As was the case Saturday, Kessel was booed virtually every time he touched the puck. But Kessel, who declined to talk to the media after the game, was held scoreless for the second time in two games against the Bruins and made little impact against his former team.
"That's what we've got to do, take away their best players," Krejci said. "We did a good job of that tonight."
The Leafs got back into the game when Grabovski slammed home the rebound of Blake's shot 18 seconds into the final period and Kulemin deflected a shot in from the side of the crease past Rask at 4:09.
Bruins coach Claude Julien then called a timeout, and his players responded.
"It was about settling them down and making sure we didn't panic," said Julien, who commended his players for avoiding the distraction of their former teammate's return. "I think our guys handled it well. 'Kesselmania' and all that stuff. I thought we were playing hockey, not wrestling."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report
|Mark Stuart (2) ASST: Johnny Boychuk (1), Daniel Paille (6)|
1 - 0 BOS
|PPG - Derek Morris (3) ASST: Zdeno Chara (17), Michael Ryder (5)|
2 - 0 BOS
|David Krejci (4) ASST: NONE|
3 - 0 BOS
|Mikhail Grabovski (7) ASST: Jason Blake (14), Niklas Hagman (9)|
3 - 1 BOS
|Nikolay Kulemin (6) ASST: Mike Komisarek (1), Tomas Kaberle (28)|
3 - 2 BOS
|PPG - Mark Recchi (6) ASST: Blake Wheeler (9), David Krejci (11)|
4 - 2 BOS
|EN - Mark Recchi (7) ASST: Patrice Bergeron (16), Marco Sturm (8)|
5 - 2 BOS
|Jason Blake Hi stick - double minor against Dennis Wideman|
|Patrice Bergeron Hi-sticking against Matt Stajan|
|Ian White Holding against Marco Sturm|
|Jamal Mayers Roughing against Mark Stuart|
|Mark Stuart Roughing against Jamal Mayers|
|Jamal Mayers Fighting (maj) against Mark Stuart|
|Mark Stuart Fighting (maj) against Jamal Mayers|
|Blake Wheeler Interference on goalkeeper against Vesa Toskala|
|Jason Blake Hi-sticking against Zdeno Chara|