TORONTO -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien made it abundantly clear he did not expect the loss of defenseman Zdeno Chara to fall directly onto the shoulders of Dougie Hamilton.
But Julien was all smiles Saturday after Hamilton, 21, had a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. It was the Bruins' first game without their captain, who injured his knee Thursday in a collision with New York Islanders center John Tavares.
"I don't think it's fair because Dougie is a young player and I don't think we're expecting him to carry the load," Julien said. "Dougie has been a good player for us and he'll continue to be a good player for us. I think it's up to the whole team to just play their game. You don't replace a player by asking another player to do his job. If that was the case, we would have asked him a long time ago."
Hamilton had a slow start to the season, but his play has improved lately. Having grown up in nearby St. Catharines, Ontario, Hamilton said he enjoys playing in Toronto. His family and a few friends were on hand to watch him Saturday.
"This is the rink I grew up watching games in and it is the arena I dreamed of playing in the NHL, so it was an awesome feeling," Hamilton said. "I thought our whole D corps played really well; probably our best defensive game of the year. We talked about it and focused on it and we executed well."
Chara is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. His leadership, physicality and offensive contributions will be missed, but Hamilton said he does not feel pressure to instantly take his game to a higher level.
"I think it's everybody having to step up," Hamilton said. "I don't think one player can fill Z's shoes. That's impossible."
Carl Soderberg gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with the only goal of the first period at 3:27. With Toronto forward David Clarkson off for boarding. Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier moved out to the top of the crease to face a shot from the point and was still out of his net when the puck came to Soderberg standing at the side. He easily tapped it in for his third goal of the season.
David Krejci increased the Bruins' lead to 2-0 at 15:58 of the second period when he broke to the Toronto net with Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel in pursuit. Bernier made the first save, but Krejci scored on the rebound.
Toronto had an opportunity to get back in the game early in the third period when Adam McQuaid of the Bruins was assessed a holding penalty at 0:23, but it was the visitors who cashed in with a shorthanded goal. Gregory Campbell passed the puck to teammate Daniel Paille and raced to the net. Paille made it look like he was going to pass back to the point but suddenly turned and passed to Campbell, who deflected the puck past Bernier.
Hamilton scored his second of the season two minutes later on a shot from the slot, prompting coach Randy Carlyle to replace Bernier with James Reimer.
Richard Panik scored his first goal for the Maple Leafs when he put a rebound past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask at 14:27 of the third period.
The Maple Leafs fell to 1-4-0 at home,
"Frustration, anger … that is the two things that were front-and-center from a coaching staff's perspective," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "We didn't win too many battles early in the hockey game. Probably for the first 30 minutes we didn't move our feet and execute. It was like the Bruins had the puck and we struggled to get it back."
Carlyle said he's noticed a trend in the four home losses.
"The first goal against seems to sink our group and it leads to the players squeezing their sticks," he said. "There are passes that we would normally make that are going into people's feet."
The evening started on an emotional note when the crowds in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal collectively sang the Canadian national anthem in honor of two soldiers, Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo, who were killed on Canadian soil this past week.