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Bruins hold off Maple Leafs in first Atlantic meeting

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- There was no revenge at TD Garden on Saturday night.

The Boston Bruins made sure the Toronto Maple Leafs left town the same way they did six months ago after Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals: in defeat.

This game was less dramatic. Patrice Bergeron broke a tie early in the third period on a power play, and Tuukka Rask made 33 saves in a 3-1 Boston victory in the first of four meetings this season between the Atlantic Division rivals.

Bergeron, who added an empty-net goal with 21.7 seconds left, scored the overtime winner last season in that Game 7, when the Bruins overcame a three-goal, third-period deficit. The center has 36 points and 12 goals in 45 regular-season games against the Maple Leafs.

"We talked about it before the game that we had to be in the present and not think about last year and realize that they're ahead of us in the standings," Bergeron said. "We had to get up for that game; it's a huge game. I thought, yes, we got away from our game a little bit in the second. But we showed some character to get back into it in the third and get the result."

The Bruins (10-5-1) have won two in a row following a two-game losing streak; they also defeated the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Boston had lost four of five games before this streak.

"Florida was a start. Today, for two out of three periods, was really good for our team," Bruins forward Jarome Iginla said. "And also to be able to win a tied game going into the third is big. To be able to get [Bergeron's] power-play goal and to get the PKs and late penalty kills, it was a good all-round game for us. So it's two now. We want to keep going. We have some room to make up in the standings. But also more than that, just keep building that consistency and get it back going and everyone feeling good."

Toronto (11-5-0) hasn't won in Boston in the regular season since March 31, 2011.

"I think the game was played in a couple parts for us," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "I didn't think we had a very good start to the game, they were all over us. We didn't do a lot of things. From a physical standpoint, we didn't get involved early. In the second period we started to get our game going. [The] most disappointing part is that our penalty killing has been one of our strongest suits this year and we give up two power-play goals that were basically empty-net goals for the Boston hockey club."

A James van Riemsdyk double-minor for high sticking carried over from the second period to the third, and the Bruins took advantage to take a 2-1 lead. Carl Soderberg battled in front and made James Reimer make two saves before Bergeron swooped in to tap in a rebound at 1:06 of the period.

After taking the lead, the Bruins kept the Maple Leafs off the scoreboard. Boston killed two Toronto power plays to run its streak to 18 straight kills over the past seven games. The last penalty was to Soderberg for holding the stick with 4:36 remaining.

"It's always a tough time to get a penalty that late, and you know they're going to try everything in their power to get that goal, and we really chopped down pucks and we got them out when we had to," Rask said. "The penalty kill has been improving a lot in these past couple games, and that's our bread and butter; we need to be a good team on PK and we've done that in the past."

The Maple Leafs didn't show the expected amount of aggressiveness in the first period. The Bruins killed the lone Toronto power play of the first period then cashed in on their only man-advantage of the first 20 minutes. Zdeno Chara scored his third power-play goal of the season by outmuscling two Maple Leafs defenders at the top of the blue paint and redirecting a pass from Jarome Iginla past Reimer. Iginla had retrieved a rebound of his own backhand shot below the goal line.

Boston's goal extended Toronto's streak of allowing at least one power-play goal to three games. The Bruins outshot the Maple Leafs, 14-7, in the period. Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid went down without contact at 7:52 and didn't return after he was helped off the ice by teammates. Boston played the rest of the night with five defensemen.

The Maple Leafs finally made the push in the second period that the Bruins were expecting from the outset. Toronto outshot Boston, 18-10, and during one stretch landed nine straight shots on Rask without the Boston getting one on Reimer.

Joffrey Lupul scored the Maple Leafs' goal with 3:08 to go in the second. He skated end-to-end down the right wing, and Dennis Seidenberg kept the Toronto forward wide, but Lupul still found space high to the glove side from just outside the right faceoff dot to beat Rask and tie the game 1-1.

"Well I think every coach would like their team to play that way, but I don't know if you can specifically say that you expect them to do that for 60 minutes," Carlyle said. "But that's more the type of hockey that we are going to ask this hockey club to play, a little bit more of a cycle game, a little bit more of a puck-possession game instead of the up and down trading chances. I think that is the most important thing for us to get an understanding of how we have to play to be effective both at home and on the road."

Reimer finished with 31 saves for the Maple Leafs.

The Bruins will continue their season-long five-game homestand Monday with a Veterans Day matinee against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It finishes Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Maple Leafs have two road games, Wednesday against the Minnesota Wild and Friday against the Buffalo Sabres, before their next home game Nov. 16 against the Sabres.

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