BOSTON, MA – It was a wild one at the TD Banknorth Garden on Thursday night as a wounded Toronto Maple Leafs squad, minus their captain Mats Sundin, outgunned the Boston Bruins to the tune of 6-4 in a crazy, wide open game, where four goalies competed and 10 goals were scored on 74 shots.
Right wing Darcy Tucker scored just seven seconds into a first period man advantage and beat Bruins goalie Tim Thomas
to the glove side on the goal line at 2:18. Then with just under three minutes remaining in the first period, the Leafs Michael Peca scored his second of the year as he took a pass from Bates Battaglia and converted it from the slot at 17:03.
Bryan McCabe scored his third goal of the year at 19:03 and sent the Bruins to the locker room down 3-0.
In somewhat of a surprise move, Bruins back-up goaltender Brian Finley, in his first ever game with Boston, led the Black & Gold out of the locker room at the beginning of the second period. He replaced Thomas and faced his first NHL action since he took the ice for the Nashville Predators on December 13th, 2005.
Initially, he fared no better than Thomas had, as Nik Antropov beat him on a rebound to the glove side low at 4:04.
But then the B's Marco Sturm woke up the home crowd at 5:40 of the second with his third of the season, from Brad Boyes and Patrice Bergeron
, to make the score 4-1.
"It was good to see him in a game," said Boston head coach, Dave Lewis, of Finley's impromptu debut. "He battled out there and he didn't back down, and that is a good thing."
Unfortunately for the Bruins, however, the momentum was short lived and Alexei Ponikarovsky put the Buds up 5-1 at 6:38. But the Bruins sparkplug center Marc Savard
kept the Bruins in the game with his fifth goal of the year -- a beautiful breakaway goal assisted by Boston captain Zdeno Chara
, at 12:07.
Then with 4:59 remaining in the second, Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft went down awkwardly with what later was reported to be a groin injury and although he left the ice under his own power, the Leafs back-up keeper Jean Sebastien Aubin replaced him for the remainder of the game.
P.J. Axelsson gave the Bruins fans hope at 6:01 of the third period after the Bruins had killed off a double minor, high sticking penalty, assessed to Andrew Alberts and gained some of their confidence back. It was a power play goal for Axelsson, assisted by Belmont's Paul Mara and Bergeron.
To make things even more interesting, Wayne Primeau tipped a Brad Boyes shot, off a Phil Kessel pass, past the Leafs Aubin to put the Bruins within one goal, 5-4, at 13:31.
But with Finley pulled for the extra attacker, Antropov scored an empty net goal to put the Leafs up 6-4 for good.
"We stayed with it all night," said Marc Savard
. "And we came up short.
"But we're going to get out of this."
Bruins head coach Dave Lewis said that he "had to do something" at the end of the first period to shake up his team.
"As it turned out it was the goalie change that maybe grabbed the attention of the players," said Lewis. "There were a couple that I don't think [Thomas] could have done anything on."
However, the team needs to right the ship, and quickly.
"I don't think as a group of defense that we played well enough to win the hockey game," said Lewis. "We gave them a couple of goals.
"And you can't afford to give anybody in this league a couple of goals."
"I don't think we came out with a lot of emotion and we ended with a lot of emotion," said the Bruins coach. "I would like to start with a lot of emotion and end with a lot of emotion.
"We have to stop the bleeding though," summarized Lewis. "We can't give up five goals a night."
The Bruins, now 4-7-2, and fifth in the Northeast Division, next play on Saturday versus Ottawa at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Tickets are available for all home games online by clicking here
, at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office, or by phone at 617.624.BEAR. Through Thanksgiving, all children 12 years old and under will be admitted free with the purchase of a ticket for select seats.