TORONTO – It took a period or so for them to get going, but the Boston Bruins took another step to locking up a playoff berth on Saturday night.
Miroslav Satan -- who was signed midway through the season as a free agent -- scored his second goal of the night with 1:35 left in overtime as Boston picked up two much-needed points with a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday.
"You can imagine what was said," said Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask of his team's locker room chatter after a first period in which Toronto took a 1-0 lead while out shooting the visitors 14-5. "We obviously know when we play bad and when we play good. That was not acceptable for us. We got better and really found a way to win."
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he delivered a simple message to his team that began the game without defenseman Andrew Ference and Mark Stuart and halfway through the first period lost blueliner Dennis Seidenberg to a deep cut on his left arm
"We had a slow start … we looked like we were skating in quicksand," said Julien. "We weren't jumping on the loose pucks and everything else and between periods the message was we needed to battle through it and get better as the game went on and I thought we did."
Satan's eighth goal on a tip of Zdeno Chara's point shot ruined Toronto's final Saturday night home game of the season and a fine performance by Maple Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who stopped 28 of 30 shots.
That was not quite enough to best Rask, who earned first-star honors for stopping 27 of 28 shots to send home unhappy most of the announced crowd of 19,273.
The Bruins, however, could celebrate on a busy day that saw four of the five teams battling for the final three Eastern Conference playoff spots in action.
Boston's two points solidified its hold on the seventh spot in the East, ahead of the Rangers and Philadelphia, which are tied for eighth following New York's win over Florida.
Thoughts of catching sixth-place Montreal also became a little more realistic for the Bruins, who are now two points behind the Canadiens with four games left to play and a game in hand.
Offense remains a big problem for the Bruins, one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL. Even with two goals on Saturday, they now have just five goals in their past four games.
"I didn't feel any pressure, I can tell you," said Satan, who tied the game 1-1 at the 8:01 mark of the second. "I mean, we knew it's an important game for us. It's been the last few weeks every game has been important, so the feeling doesn't change. It's an urgency to produce and to get as many points as we can. They definitely probably wanted to spoil this game for us and we're happy that we got another two points and it looks a little better for us after today."
Also helping things look better is the fact Seidenberg is reportedly fine despite leaving the game because of a deep gash on his left arm.
That same play that gave Seidenberg a boarding penalty left the Bruins down two men for 1:37, though they managed to get through it without giving up a goal.
Boston still had its full complement of players when its collapsing defense helped Colton Orr put the home team up 1-0 lat the 5:10 mark of the first period.
A bunch of white jerseys kept backing up on Rask in the Bruins' net, giving Dion Phaneuf free reign to unleash a blast from the point.
Rask gave up a big rebound which Orr jumped on and, while practically on his knees, put into the net for his career-high fourth goal of the season.
Maple Leaf defenseman Garnet Exelby's inability to tie up his man at the side of Toronto's net let the Bruins tie the game with 11:59 left in the second. After Gustavsson made the initial save, an unattended Satan shoveled the puck in for his seventh goal of the season.
Former Bruin Phil Kessel's season-long struggle against his old team continued as Boston held its former sniper off the score sheet for the fifth time in six games this season.
Kessel, who left the Leafs' bench for a long stretch during the third period with what coach Ron Wilson called a "cramp", has just one assist against the Bruins after being traded to Toronto in the off-season.
Jeremy Sandler covers sports for the National Post newspaper in Toronto.