The Boston Bruins fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 on New Year's Day before a raucus crowd at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Maple Leaf captain Mats Sundin scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season in the win, while former Bruin goaltender Andrew Raycroft was often brilliant in net against his former team.
The start boded well for the B's, especially when Bruins captain Zdeno Chara
put Boston on the board early when he took his place directly in front of the Toronto goal on the power play and was able to authoritatively bang the puck by Raycroft at 4:51 (assists to Marco Sturm, Marc Savard
Unfortunately, Captain Sundin turned the trick as well when he beat the Bruins starter, Tim Thomas
, at 8:09.
Another former Bruin, defenseman Hal Gill, scored his third goal of the season (and the eventual game winner) at 12:19 and put the Leafs up by a goal.
Still, Thomas ended the period with nine saves while Toronto's Raycroft finished with 11 and the Maple Leafs went to the locker room leading 2-1 after 20-minutes in what looked to become a tightly checked goaltending battle.
As such, Raycroft continued to be strong in the middle period and finished the second session with 21 total saves and a clear net in the period.
Meanwhile, a Bruin miscue in the Boston zone led to Kris Newbury's first NHL goal and put the Buds up by two goals going into the second intermission. Thomas made 10 saves to raise his total for the game to 19 saves.
The physical play was intense throughout the game, as evidenced by the new set of stitches on Darcy Tucker's forehead as well as the persistent violent crash of the boards due to some truly punishing hits from both sides.
The tide of the game, however, clearly resided on the Maple Leafs bench through most of the contest. And Toronto put the hammer to the Bruins early in the third period as Sundin scored his second goal of the game at 1:59 and Jeff O'Neill scored his 13th goal (from Sundin and Bryan McCabe) at 5:13.
Perhaps feeling the effects of their four game post-holiday road trip, Boston was unable to engender any offensive output in the final period and fell to the Leafs 5-1.
The B's will return to the Garden on Thursday, January 4th at 7:00 when they face the Leafs in the second half of the important home-at-home series with their division rivals.
Tickets are available for all home games online by clicking here
, at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 617.624.BEAR.