TORONTO -- Phil Kessel is used to hearing chants of, "Thank you, Kessel! … Thank you, Kessel!"
But that's when his Toronto Maple Leafs are playing the Boston Bruins at TD Garden in Boston, where he got his start in the NHL. Kessel joined Toronto in a trade Sept. 18, 2009, and the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup less than two years later. Bruins fans love to jeer the Maple Leafs' top goal-scoring threat.
So it was with pure delight that Kessel heard the same chant, "Thank you, Kessel! … Thank you, Kessel!" from the rabid fans in Toronto during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Monday. It was their way of showing appreciation for his offensive exploits.
"The fans here have always been great to me," Kessel said. "I love playing in this city. We have great fans and they supported us well Monday night."
That was the good news. So was the third-period goal he scored, his second goal in as many games. The bad news was he gave the puck away in the second period that led to a shorthanded goal by Boston's Daniel Paille and in the third period was goaded into taking a penalty by Bruins pest Brad Marchand.
Regarding the giveaway, Kessel said, "I made a bad play. I didn't think the guy was right there, and he intercepted the puck and went off on a breakaway."
As for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following a scuffle with Marchand, Kessel said it's all just part of the game.
"I didn't think it was a big deal," he said. "It's just battling hard out there and it gets heated. He's a good hockey player and he battles hard out there."
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