BOSTON -- The 2013 season has featured many marked improvements for the Toronto Maple Leafs except in one area: beating the Boston Bruins.
Though Toronto cut Boston's lead to one goal late in the third period, the Bruins hung on Thursday night at TD Garden for a 4-2 win that ran their winning streak against their Northeast Division rivals to eight games, dating to March 2011.
The Bruins are 8-0-1 in their past nine against the Maple Leafs and they snapped a two-game losing streak.
"They play a good game and they battled hard tonight," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "You saw they came back there at the end and put a good push on. Every night's different, and when we go into a game, we don't look at the past eight or whatever it is. We don't look at those and say, 'We beat them before, so we're going to beat them tonight.' It's how prepared you are and just how that game goes."
Toronto, which last beat Boston on March 31, 2011, had its three-game winning streak end. The Maple Leafs are 0-2-0 against the Bruins this season and trail them by three points for second place in the Northeast Division.
"I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. [A] couple mistakes that they capitalized on, but as far as competing we made strides tonight," Toronto forward Clarke MacArthur said. "They've got a good hockey team over there, they're solid; we had our chances, we just couldn't put them away. It was a better effort for sure."
Boston's Tyler Seguin scored two goals and added an assist; he combined with linemates Marchand and Patrice Bergeron for seven points.
After starting the third period down 3-1, Toronto pulled within one goal with 5:08 remaining when Mikhail Grabovski's shot went off Jay McClement in front and beat Anton Khudobin. But Seguin's empty-net goal sealed the win with 45 seconds left.
It was a far cry from the previous two games for the Bruins, who squandered third-period leads to the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals. The Bruins have lost three times this season after taking a lead into the final period.
"Well, I think that the whole attitude was, 'Listen, we're here to win. Let's not play on our heels. Let's go back and get the next one,'" Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "And we had couple good scoring chances after they made it 3-2. ... At least we didn't sit back and we didn't panic. Our guys responded well. We looked more like the team from before [the losing streak] when they made it 3-2 than we did the last couple games."
The Bruins' top-ranked penalty kill was called on early, when it had to extinguish 23 seconds of a Toronto 5-on-3 and two Maple Leafs power plays in the first 15 minutes of the game. After the defense took care of business, the Bruins got on the scoreboard.
Marchand battled Korbinian Holzer near the Toronto blue line, and the puck deflected out to Seguin, who darted to the Maple Leafs net. Ben Scrivens stopped the initial shot, but Bergeron swooped in to bury the rebound and give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 53 seconds left in the period.
Khudobin was a perfect 10-for-10 in the opening 20 minutes. He finished with 25 saves.
Toronto evened the score after a David Krejci miscue in the Maple Leafs zone. Clarke MacArthur skated the puck end to end on a 2-on-1 with Nazem Kadri, who finished with 2:32 elapsed to make it 1-1.
The Bruins owned the rest of the second period. Bergeron's line put Boston back in front with Seguin streaking down the right wing and beating Scrivens with a shot into the left post after a feed by Marchand at 7:11.
Krejci was then the benefactor of a lucky bounce after Andrew Ference had his shot blocked on the rush. Krejci knocked the loose puck in the slot into the net at 18:12 to put Boston ahead 3-1.
Scrivens, playing in place of James Reimer on the second night of a back-to-back situation for Toronto, finished with 21 saves and dropped to 0-2-0 against Boston.
"I thought we worked extremely hard. I think we did a lot of things that we are asking of our group and we were not rewarded for the work that I think we put in," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "But games sometimes are funny. From the standpoint of probably [Wednesday] night, we got points when we didn't deserve it [in a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators], tonight we deserved a better fate.
"I thought our work ethic was strong, our forechecking game was going. We got some cycling. It's the type of hockey that we're going to expect our hockey club to play every night."