TORONTO -- The Boston Bruins ended a five-game losing streak by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.
Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara scored in the second period for Boston (40-28-8), which is third in the Atlantic Division, three points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings, who lost 7-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier Saturday.
"You want to win and you look at our situation with Detroit losing this afternoon, so this is an opportunity for us to gain some points," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "It was an important game for us for that reason, but also you don't want to prolong that streak any more than you had to. That first win is always the toughest, so hopefully we can build on it."
Matt Beleskey scored a power-play goal into an empty net with 49.5 seconds remaining in the third period, and Tuukka Rask made 25 saves for the Bruins, who continue a four-game road trip at the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.
Video: BOS@TOR: Bergeron ties the game with a PPG
The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Maple Leafs (27-36-11), who finished 4-2-0 on a six-game homestand. Toronto plays at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
The Maple Leafs outshot the Bruins 11-9 and scored the only goal of the first period. Less than a minute after Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped Boston's David Krejci on a breakaway, Colin Greening fired a shot from the right circle that Ben Smith tipped past Rask at 16:55 for his second goal of the season.
"I knew we were a little bit tight in the first period. But when you are going through what we have been, it doesn't just turn around like that," Julien said. "I knew our intentions were good at the start of the game, but we were really tight. After the first, we talked about a couple of things that we needed to do if we were going to turn it around. We needed to play with more energy and more confidence and do the right things. It slowly came around and after a while you started to see our old team."
The Bruins tied the game 1-1 at 2:39 of the second period with a power-play goal. Thirteen seconds after Toronto defenseman Connor Carrick was sent off for tripping, Bergeron stuffed a rebound past Bernier for his 29th goal of the season.
Video: BOS@TOR: Chara beats Bernier, Bruins take the lead
Boston took a 2-1 lead at 6:29 when Chara scored his ninth goal of the season. Bernier stopped Krejci's shot from the high slot, but the rebound came to Chara in front of the net and scored on a backhand shot.
Bernier finished with 30 saves.
Chara, Boston's captain, was relieved to see the Bruins put the losing streak behind them.
"We played better, it's as simple as that," Chara said. "You can't really pick one thing than we did better than all those games. Overall, I thought we were better. We were tighter defensively, better offensively, stronger on pucks, more physical. I thought we had a good, strong 60-minute game."
In winning their three previous games and five of their past six, the Maple Leafs had worn down opponents with their speed. The Bruins were able to slow them down.
"We talked about their speed and their energy," Julien said. "They have a lot of guys who are trying to make a real good impression. When you are young and energetic you come real hard and we talked about doing a good job, especially in the neutral zone where they move the puck around well."
Video: BOS@TOR: Smith lights the lamp on a tip-in
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said the reason his players didn't look as quick was not because the Bruins slowed them down. Rather, it had more to do with Toronto's carelessness.
"We turned the puck over," Babcock said. "When you turn the puck over in the second period and then they keep putting it in and you keep turning it over they make you look slow. I thought we made them look slow in the first, they made us look slow in the second and the third was pretty even."
Babcock said playing a good team that has not been playing well can be a dangerous thing.
"We knew it was going to be a good game against Boston," he said. "They were a desperate team. They dropped a few in a row and they have a good club. I thought we gave ourselves a good opportunity, but in the end I would have liked to have seen us score."
Video: Bruins end five-game losing streak with 3-1 win