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Top line carries Maple Leafs to win against Bruins

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Phil Kessel scored two goals, and linemates Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk each had one to help the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 6-1 win against the Boston Bruins at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.

Goalie Tuukka Rask started for the Bruins but was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots and replaced by Niklas Svedberg.

The Bruins, who had a five-game winning streak snapped, were playing without injured captain Zdeno Chara (knee) and center David Krejci (lower body).

The Maple Leafs started the season with Kessel, Bozak and van Riemsdyk playing together, but the line was broken up for a few games after going a bit stale.

"They had a decent start to the season but there was a lull after three or four games," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "Now when they are getting opportunities they are closer and they are scoring at a higher rate. It's like their cohesiveness from an offensive point of view is going well for them. They are on an upward trend."

Although Kessel did enjoy a good playoff against Boston in 2013, when he had four goals and six points in seven games, he has had his share of difficulty against his former team in the regular season. Part of the problem was being unable to be as effective when being checked by Chara. That was not a factor Wednesday.

"They're still a good team without him, but obviously he's a great player and they miss him," Kessel said. "He's a big guy and he's one of the best defensemen in the League, so he makes it tough on you out there."

The Maple Leafs were embarrassed in a 4-1 home loss to the Bruins on Oct. 25, and it was clear from the start of the start of the game they were trying to make amends.

Kessel scored his ninth goal of the season when he broke into the Boston zone on the right side and snapped a shot to the far side past Rask 6:46 into the first period. Kessel scored his second of the game 18 seconds into the second period when he broke in 2-on-1 with Bozak and elected to drill another snap shot past Rask.

"I think we got to play together a little longer and we're getting used to each other again. We clicked tonight," Kessel said.

Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly scored his second goal of the season when he snapped a rebound past Rask from 20 feet out at 1:34 of the second period.

When Bozak scored at 3:32, a tipped shot with the Bruins killing a penalty, Boston coach Claude Julien pulled Rask and replaced him with Svedberg.

"We just stunk [up] the joint, and right now it's a matter of moving on, getting ready for tomorrow," Julien said, referring to Boston's game at the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, "because there's nothing great to talk about today."

Toronto increased its lead to 5-0 at 9:51 when van Riemsdyk scored his seventh of the season with Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton in the penalty box for holding. Bozak tipped a Jake Gardiner slap shot from the point and it deflected into the net off van Riemsdyk.

The Bruins thought they scored at 11:47 when Reilly Smith beat goalie Jonathan Bernier with Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson off for hooking, but it was waved off. Boston center Carl Soderberg was ruled in the crease.

Boston did score when defenseman Dennis Seidenberg snapped a shot from the left point that beat Bernier at 14:16.

Kessel had a chance to complete his hat trick when he broke in alone on Svedberg, but was stopped at 14:49.

Peter Holland scored Toronto's third power-play goal of the game at 7:21 of the third period when he drove hard to the net, switched to his backhand and slipped a shot past Svedberg. It was Holland's third goal in as many games.

The Bruins were 6-1-0 in the first seven games without Chara. Center Gregory Campbell said the Bruins can't use the injuries to Chara and Krejci as an excuse for a poor performance.

"Nights like this happen, but what is most disappointing is the effort," Campbell said. "We've got an experienced group of guys here whether we have a few guys out or not. Sometimes it's not going to go our way, but there's still that element of character and pride that we have to have on display at all times. Nights like these you have to shake off, but on the other hand you have to learn from them too."

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