TORONTO - The Boston Bruins scored two goals in a little over two minutes in the second period to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 Monday night and regain the upper hand in their NHL playoff series.
The loss came before 19,746 fans inside the Air Canada Centre. Outside, a blue-and-white throng watched the game on a big screen in Maple Leaf Square as playoff hockey returned to Toronto for the first time since 2004.
After being beaten 4-2 in Boston on Saturday night, the Bruins upped their game. The Leafs, meanwhile, made mistakes and were punished although they tried to close the gap with a busy third period in which they outshot the visitors 18-6. The Leafs finished with a 47-38 edge in shots.
Game 4 goes Wednesday in Toronto, with the Leafs trailing 2-1 in the series. Boston won the opener 4-1.
The line of Milan Lucic, Krejci and Horton finished the night with two goals and six assists. They have combined for 17 points through the first three post-season games, with five goals and 12 assists.
It was the first Leafs' home playoff game since May 4, 2004, when Toronto lost 3-2 in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers to lose the conference semifinal 4-2. Fans were rewarded for patience with free scarves.
The last home playoff win came in that same series, a 3-1 victory on April 30, 2004.
For the Bruins, the playoffs are business as usual. Boston, which won the Cup two years ago, is in the post-season for the sixth straight year.
Inside the chants of "Go Leafs Go" started early, before the warmup. Even anthem singer 2nd Lieutenant Scott Newlands got an ovation, with the crowd belting out "O Canada" with him.
Boston did its bit to quiet the crowd, which still had its moments as the night progressed. And the fans booed Bruins captain Zdeno Chara almost every time he touched the puck.
The crowd showed Kessel some love, chanting "Thank You Kessel." Unlike in Boston, where fans used the chant to taunt the former Bruin, they meant it Monday.
Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference returned from his one-game suspension. That allowed coach Claude Julien to go back to his Game 1 defensive pairings: Chara with Dennis Seidenberg, Ference with Johnny Boychuk, and Wade Redden with McQuaid. Boston won that game 4-1.
Rookie Dougie Hamilton, who replaced Ference on Saturday, dropped out of the lineup.
Carlyle continued to do his best to keep Kessel away from Chara. Matt Frattin spent eight seconds on the ice after the opening faceoff before he headed to the bench and Kessel popped over the boards.
Kessel saw time on lines with both Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul, and Nazem Kadri and Ryan Hamilton, with Frattin acting as his body double as needed on the other trio. Kessel was also deployed at times on left wing for faceoffs in the Boston end, to earn some space from the six-foot-nine Boston captain.
Toronto outshot Boston early but it was James Reimer called on to make a huge save midway through the period after he gave up a rebound and Colton Orr and Carl Gunnarsson both skated past it. Tyler Seguin swooped in but Reimer stopped his close-range backhand with his blocker.
It was Seguin's 16th shot of the series.
The Bruins had an edge about them — Gregory Campbell introduced Leo Komarov to the tip of his stick at one point —and began to threaten. And they scored first at 13:42 when McQuaid's shot from the point beat Reimer to the stick side. The Toronto goalie looked aghast, as if the puck had done something before passing him by.
It was Boston's seventh goal of the series and the fourth scored by defencemen.
Reimer bounced back with a nice pad save on Shawn Thornton.
Boston outshot Toronto 17-13 in the first period while the Leafs held a 21-19 edge in hits.
The Bruins continued to dictate the game early in the second but Tuukka Rask was forced to make back-to-back saves off Lupul and Bozak in a rare Leafs rush some five minutes in.
The Bruins continued to win the faceoff battle with Bozak, the Leafs' top faceoff man, repeatedly thrown out of the circle.
Gardiner got the crowd out of their seats when Bruin penalty killer Chris Kelly's failed clearance went to Gardiner who skated in from the blue-line and snapped a shot over the glove of Rask at 13:45 for his first playoff goal.
The fans were still celebrating — inside and outside the building — when Lucic cruised down the left wing and sent a laser-like pass over to Horton, open at the top of the crease. He beat Reimer for his third of the playoffs at 14:35.
The Toronto goalie helped stop the scoreboard turning when he stoned Jagr on a breakaway soon after.
But the Bruins onslaught continued as Kessel gave up the puck on the power play and Paille, with Kessel nipping at his heels, raced in alone to beat Reimer with a backhand at 16:37 for his second of the playoffs.
Boston outshot Toronto 32-28 after 40 minutes.
An opportunistic Kessel closed the gap to 4-2 just 47 seconds into the third period when Rask slid out of the position and Seidenberg was unable to clear the puck. Kessel picked it up and fired it into the net over a sliding Bruin.
That earned another round of "Thank You Kessel" chants.
The Bruins got a break as the third period wound down when Rask and the defence managed to clear a Cody Franson shot and the rebounds that followed. Rask had to stop Franson again minutes later.
NOTES — Jagr's assist on Boston’s second goal was his 190th career NHL playoff point. That tied him with Brett Hull for sixth place on the league’s all-time playoff points list ... A Toronto fan flashed a "Toronto stronger" sign, in reference to the "Boston Strong" slogan that has seen widespread use since the marathon bombings.
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