1. Marner, van Riemsdyk continue points surge as Leafs score twice in first, take lead into intermission. In building their current three-game win streak, the Leafs have demonstrated their depth on offence - particularly, given the absence of centre Auston Matthews in both of the past two games as well as Saturday's showdown against the Bruins - and once again, Toronto's players showed they could produce offence in a hurry, staking out the Buds to a two-goal lead by the 14:16 mark of the first period. And the players who contributed to those goals all have been productive of late.
Winger Mitch Marner - who had a pair of assists Friday in Toronto's 3-2 overtime win over Boston at Air Canada Centre - netted his second goal of the season at 8:52 of the opening frame. Marner registered the shootout winner in the Leafs' 4-3 victory over Las Vegas Monday, and has six points in five games (including Saturday). Toronto added to its lead on the power play at 14:16 of the period, when winger James van Riemsdyk deftly deflected centre Nazem Kadri's shot past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and into the net.
van Riemsdyk's goal was his ninth of the year, his fourth in as many games, and his third in his past two. Kadri's assist gave him five points in four games, and blueliner Morgan Rielly, who got the secondary assist on the goal, extended his point streak to four games. The Bruins got on the scoreboard 1:02 after van Riemsdyk's goal when centre Frank Vatrano tipped a shot past Leafs netminder Curtis McElhinney, but Toronto took a 2-1 lead into the second period thanks to the continued hot streak of a quartet of contributors.
2. Toronto outshot through first 40 minutes, but stays disciplined and defence holds strong to preserve lead in scoreless second frame. The Leafs were outshot 13-6 in the first period and Boston got an additional 13 shots on McElhinney in the second. However, Toronto managed 11 shots of their own in the middle frame and, more importantly, they kept the Bruins from tying the score through 40 minutes of play.
Boston had a handful of opportunities to do so, but McElhinney was on his game, and the Buds' defence prevented high-quality followup chances in front of him. And Toronto didn't give the home team a power play in the second, while the Bruins gave the Leafs a man advantage in the frame to make it a total of three Leafs power plays to that point. Penalty discipline has been an issue for the Blue & White in recent weeks, but that wasn't the case in the first two-thirds of this contest, as Toronto surrendered just one power play in two periods.
3. Penalty kill comes up big for Buds to start third period, thwarts Bruins on extended 5-on-3 advantage. Boston has a 5-2-2 mark in their home rink this season, so it was expected they'd turn up the heat on Toronto in the third period. That's what happened, as the Bruins forced the Leafs into two penalties in the first 3:39 of the third - and the second resulted in a 5-on-3 power play for 1:07. That was a golden opportunity for the Bs to even things up, but the Leafs' penalty killers were outstanding and kept the score at 2-1.
The Buds wound up giving Boston another man advantage after the 5-on-3, but Toronto foiled them on that one as well, and by the time the final buzzer sounded, they'd prevented all four Bruins power plays. The Leafs entered the game with the NHL's 15th-best penalty kill, so this was one of their better efforts in that department this season.
4. Rielly replies shortly after Bruins' 5-on-3 to extend Leafs' lead. Just 73 seconds after the Leafs killed off Boston's 5-on-3 man advantage, Rielly fired a shot through traffic that evaded Rask's grasp and crossed the goal line for Rielly's third of the season and ninth point in his past 11 games.
Rielly now has 16 points in 19 games this year, and he's looking as confident with the puck as he has at any point in the 23-year-old's five NHL seasons. But head coach Mike Babcock was likely most pleased Rielly's marker bumped his team's lead to a pair of goals with a little less than three-quarters of the third period left to play.
5. McElhinney stands strong, Marleau adds empty-netter as Toronto boosts win streak to four. The Bruins didn't stop competing after Rielly's goal and again led Toronto in shots in the third frame, outshooting them 13-8 and 39-25 on the night. But McElhinney was focused throughout the evening and turned aside 38 shots to record his second win of the season, and forward Patrick Marleau added an empty-net goal (his eighth marker of the year and third in as many games) to seal the win and improve the Leafs' record to 12-7-0.
The Leafs now have a rare four-day stretch without a game before New Jersey visits Air Canada Centre Thursday to face them for the second time this year. The Devils soundly defeated Toronto 6-3 in their first clash and remain atop the Metropolitan Division, so the Buds will need all pistons firing if they're to keep their win streak alive.