Toronto got goals from Joe Nieuwendyk and Ron Francis -- his first since being obtained from Carolina on March 9 -- in the first nine minutes of the second period and an empty-net goal from Nik Antropov with 1:43 left in the game.
| Nieuwendyk had his 19th of the season Thursday. |
(Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)
Belfour made sure that was enough.
It's not as if he needs a road-ice advantage in stopping shots. His 73 career shutouts rank 10th in NHL history.
"I've played with him a long time and been through a few wars with him,"said Nieuwendyk, Belfour's former teammate with Dallas. "He will come through when it counts."
It did Thursday when Toronto cut Boston's lead in the Northeast Division to one point, 97-96. The Bruins have five regular-season games left, while the Maple Leafs have four.
Belfour made 33 saves, the same amount he had in his last game, a 7-2 loss Tuesday night to Tampa Bay.
"A lot of teams might be affected by a 7-2 loss, but we responded," Nieuwendyk said.
Belfour faced few difficult shots by Boston, which was hurt by four penalties in the first period.
"We wanted to keep (the puck) near the net as much as possible but they collapsed really well," Boston's Joe Thornton said of Toronto's skaters. "Eddie only got tested about five or six times."
Francis, 41; Belfour, 38; and Nieuwendyk, 37; were the Maple Leafs' stars.
"Our veteran players shored up their game," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "We were disciplined and did the simple things we hadn't been doing recently."
The Maple Leafs came back from a 2-1 loss to Boston nine days earlier and are 4-2 in their last six games. The Bruins lost for just the second time in 10 games (7-2-1) and suffered their 10th shutout of the season. The previous team record for home shutouts was six in 1951-52.
Nieuwendyk scored his fifth goal in nine games and 19th of the season from just outside the crease on a rebound after goalie Andrew Raycroft stopped a shot by Antropov.
Francis connected at 8:40 on a soft 15-footer that fooled defenceman Sergei Gonchar and Raycroft, who were expecting a harder blast.
"He missed it, a changeup, a Tim Wakefield knuckleball,"Raycroft said.
It was Francis' 11th goal of the season and his 137th point in 130 games against the Bruins.
"It wasn't a pretty goal and I don't know if it even hit the back of the net," Francis said.