Milan Lucic scored twice and David Krejci added a goal and two assists Wednesday as the Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 to retake first place in the Northeast Division.
It's been a remarkable turnaround for the defending champions after a slow start to the year. Boston finished November with a 12-0-1 record, making it the Original Six franchise's first month without a regulation loss since January 1969.
Tim Thomas continues to lead the way and picked up his ninth straight victory with a 34-save performance against the Maple Leafs.
Zdeno Chara, Benoit Pouliot and Brad Marchand had the other goals for Boston (15-7-1), which last lost in regulation on Oct. 29 in Montreal. Mikhail Grabovski
, Joffrey Lupul
and Matt Frattin
replied for Toronto (14-9-2).
The Leafs pushed the Bruins to their limit in the first of back-to-back meetings between teams hovering around the top of the Eastern Conference. They'll go at it again in Boston on Saturday night.
A game with plenty of pre-game hype managed to live up to its billing. The quick skating teams took turns mounting rushes during a first period that saw the Bruins hold a slight edge in possession and shots, 17-16.
But the score was 1-1 thanks to a pair of power-play goals.
Grabovski opened the scoring for Toronto at 7:29 after taking a perfect cross-ice pass from Clarke MacArthur
and beating Thomas with a backhander on the rush. It was his sixth goal of the season. Jonas Gustavsson
had a strong showing early for the Maple Leafs but was finally beaten after an extended 5-on-3 man advantage. Boston used crisp cross-ice passes to blow the Leafs penalty kill apart before Lucic roofed a shot from the side of the net at 15:08 as the first penalty expired.
Shortly after, NHL scoring leader Phil Kessel
was sent in on a breakaway but couldn't beat Thomas with a deke.
The game didn't slow down any in the second period. Krejci gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead at 3:33 by going hard to the net and knocking home a rebound off the rush before Kessel found Lupul on a 2-on-1 to even things up at 7:00.
Even Chara's goal to make it 3-2 at 15:30 came off the rush. The big defenceman stepped up and beat Gustavsson short side with a heavy wrist shot the Leafs goalie should have had.
There was very little separating the teams. Pouliot put Boston ahead 4-2 early in the third period and Frattin responded less than three minutes later to get Toronto back within a goal. They wouldn't bridge the gap.
Lucic put it away with his second of the night at 15:21 before Marchand hit the empty net in the final minute. Notes:
The Leafs went 7-6-1 in November. ... Cody Franson
, Colton Orr and Philippe Dupuis
sat out for Toronto. ... The Bruins scratched Jordan Caron and Steve Kampfer. ... Leafs goalie James Reimer
, sidelined since Oct. 22 with concussion-like symptoms, is expected to serve as the backup for Saturday's game in Boston. ... Announced attendance was 19,643.