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Leafs Drop Third Straight To Bruins

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO -- After putting the finishing touches on a near-perfect month, the Boston Bruins are looking like Stanley Cup favourites once again.

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.
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