TORONTO - Two important points were on the line in Toronto on Monday night.
The Bruins entered the game just three points ahead of the Leafs in the standings, with Toronto having a game in hand.
It was poised to be a tight, playoff-like matchup.
Unfortunately, the Bruins left the game with just a slight one point lead over Toronto, after ultimately falling 4-2. The game had been tied at 1-1 until 1:57 left in the third period.
"They're not going to quit," Brad Marchand said, of the standings battle with the Leafs. "We know that, regardless of the outcome of the game, it's going to come down to a battle in the last 10 games here. So this game's over now, we have a big one [on Tuesday], and that's the one we have to worry about."
The Black & Gold have a quick turnaround, next hosting the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at TD Garden for another important divisional matchup.
"Get back at it [on Tuesday], and try to get the win," said Tuukka Rask, who made 26 saves. "Because you can't lose too many games in a row at this time of the season, so try to get the win, and get the smiles going."
The nature in which the Bruins lost wasn't sitting too well with them postgame.
With 2:54 to go in the third period, Dominic Moore was whistled for interference, sending Boston on the PK without one of its best penalty killers.
At 2:07 to go, Rask made an unbelievable kick save with his right leg, but the puck stayed alive, and Tyler Bozak scored a power-play goal with 1:57 on the clock to put the Leafs up 2-1.
"I thought it was an egregious call, to be perfectly honest with you," said Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy," of the tough call on Moore late in the game. "I mean, a guy driving the net, their guy's there, happens probably 100 times during the course of the game, but, we've got to get the job done on the penalty kill. It's been good for us all year and unfortunately we needed one more."
Throughout the third period, the Bruins had been limiting Toronto's chances and were strong on the puck, getting looks on Frederik Andersen, who was strong in goal for the Leafs.
With less than six minutes to go in the third, Andersen pulled out an excellent stop on a Riley Nash wraparound attempt to keep the game tied at 1-1.
"Yeah, it is [a tough call], but what can you do? Could have gone the other way, too, I guess," said Rask.
While killing a penalty late in the game wasn't ideal, the Bruins have a strong amount of confidence in their penalty kill, which has been consistently at the top of the league.
"Definitely I think it's one of those that hurts. We talked about before the game doing the job, and we didn't do it," said Patrice Bergeron.
"A few times the puck didn't get out, and then after that, you start scrambling and you maybe try to do too much, and that's when things open up, so obviously we have to do the job, especially late in the game."
David Backes got the Bruins on the board in the first period for a 1-0 lead at 12:35 into the frame. He took a Brad Marchand feed, and ripped in his 16th of the season from the right circle.
"Definitely tough to lose like that, where we played so hard all game, and we played a pretty good game, so that's unfortunate," said Marchand.
Cassidy and the Bruins were clearly frustrated after the game, but were keeping a calm, business-like demeanor.
"We've got Ottawa to prepare for now, "said Cassidy. "Like I said, it's unfortunate, but when those happen, you have to take a deep breath and get the kill, and they took advantage of it."
Now, the focus will be moving on from Toronto to the waiting Ottawa Senators, who have been in Boston.
The game against the Leafs had served as an opportunity for the Black & Gold to gain ground in the standings. Rask did his part in helping that along, but now it's time to quickly regroup
"He was excellent. I'm not going to fault our goaltending," said Cassidy. "He made the saves, to keep us in the game, give us a chance to win. So did their guy. It was a great game, until the penalty call I thought, to be honest with you. It was a really good hockey game, and it's unfortunate that we get no points out of it."
Video: Condensed Game: Bruins @ Maple Leafs