The Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-1, on Thursday night at the TD Banknorth Garden. Left wing Wayne Primeau scored the game winner off a Mark Mowers pass at 14:07 of the third period.
The Bruins, who hosted the Leafs in the fifth of eight games between these teams this season and the third of four games of this season's series at the Garden, are now 14-10-2 overall and enjoy a 8-5-1 record on home ice.
The Maple Leafs fell to 13-12-5 overall this season, with a 7-5-3 record on the road, and have now lost six games in a row.
The first period ended knotted at 0-0 thanks to some outstanding goaltending. Tim Thomas
, who started the game for Boston, was unbeaten through 20 minutes and stopped all seven shots he faced. Meanwhile, Maple Leafs goalie J-Sebastien Aubin made eight saves and was perfect on his end.
As a result, neither team was able to swing the momentum in their direction.
In the second, however, a tough bounce off the boards doomed Thomas' shutout chances as a Mike Peca shot caromed hard off the half-wall behind the Bruins goalie and then slid out in front of the net to a waiting Maple Leaf -- Jeff O'Neill.
O'Neill slam dunked the biscuit at 5:04 and sent Toronto to the locker room up 1-0.
"We've had enough adversity earlier this year," said Thomas of the goal. "As of right now, we've kind of learned our lesson and you have to just put that behind you."
And the Black & Gold did just that.
The third period was all Boston as Brad Stuart scored to tie the game at 1-1 at 10:13. Primeau scored the eventual game winner shortly afterward, and Patrice Bergeron
iced the game at 18:41 off a Primeau feed.
"The biggest thing is that we got the win," said Primeau. "We talked about it in between periods, they are a team that's been struggling as of late and their third periods have been their downfall.
"We continued to get shots…and we were able to capitalize."
Thomas, who finished with 23 saves, said that the Primeau - Mowers - Donovan line has been very important to the Bruins recent success.
"They've really stepped it up," said Thomas. "It's made a world of difference. When they add that one goal a game, plus play solid defense, plus control the puck for almost their whole shift…that changes the whole game for our team."
"I think early on in the year…we tried too hard to win hockey games," said Bruins head coach Dave Lewis. "Now, defensively we have more patience.
"We are making better plays with the puck when we are behind or have the lead. And the attitude is better in that regard.
"You look at the blocked shots…getting in shooting lanes. You know, the little things," he said.
"That's winning hockey to me."