Undermanned Leafs Outlast Bruins Comeback; Win 6-4

TD Garden played host to bitter rivals as the Toronto Maple Leafs travelled to Boston to play the Bruins. This would be the second meeting between the two teams this season, following a 5-2 Leaf win in early November.

Toronto would get on the front foot early when a new look fourth line of newly acquired Colin Blackwell, Jason Spezza and Kyle Clifford would hem the Bruins in their own zone.

A weak clearance by Connor Clifton would be deflected down and corralled by Spezza who would feed Blackwell infront of the Bruins net for his first goal in new threads, and his ninth goal of the season.

Less than a minute later, Michael Bunting would take a tripping call, sending Boston to the power play for their first of three opportunities on the night and David Pastrnak wired a wicked one timer, off of TJ Brodie, for his 38th goal of the season, and 14th with the man advantage.

On the goal it appeared that Leaf net-minder Petr Mrazek injured himself while trying to make the save and he would have to leave the game, being replaced by young Erik Kallgren. This would be a sign of things to come.

The Maple Leafs would finish the period strong with Morgan Rielly giving them another lead just under five minutes later, where he would smack home a rebound for a goal in back to back games, his eighth of the season.

Alexander Kerfoot would deflect a shot at the Leafs blueline, springing him on a breakaway, as he pulled out a nifty move to get the puck around the young Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman for his 11th goal of the season.

Toronto would continue to capitalize on their chances into the second period as they would take a commanding 4-1 lead after Marner would bury his 28th goal of the season after a nifty passage of play with line-mates Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting.

Later on in the period a Maple Leaf power play would see Auston Matthews would retake sole possession of the goal scoring lead when he would corral a loose puck and fire past Swayman for his 49th goal of the season.

Only 47 seconds later David Kampf would track down a high point shot from Rielly, and deflect it down and past Swayman to give the Leafs a 6-1 lead.

Surely, they wouldn’t let this lead evaporate from them, could they?

With less than two minutes left in the period the Bruins would cut into the Leaf lead when Jake DeBrusk would redirect a Charlie McAvoy point shot and into the net for his 16th of the season.

The maligned forward was at the centre of trade rumours just a couple of weeks ago after months of deliberation with the team and his party handing in a trade request. It might have been a surprise too many to see DeBrusk still in a Bruins sweater after the deadline, but he is piecing together a great season with Boston.

As mentioned above Mrazek’s injury would only be a sign of things to come for the Leafs, during the period both Justin Holl and Ilya Lyubushkin would head back to the Leaf locker room with injury and they wouldn’t return.

While Holl’s injury, however gruesome it was could be excused as a misfortunate play, Taylor Hall’s retaliation to a Lybushkin check on the boards, which would see Hall land a sucker punch to the chin of the big Russian defenceman, leaving him to fall to the ice should be seen with some malicious intent to injure.

The day after the game the NHL Department of Player Safety announced that Hall would receive a fine to the tune of $5,000 USD, the maximum allowed under the current CBA. A gutless move and a gutless response from the NHL.

Boston would continue to pound pressure on the Leafs in the third period and they would find themselves slowly clawing their way back into the game.

Curtis Lazar would bat a loose puck through the arm of Kallgren and into the net cutting the Leaf lead to three with just under eight minutes to play.

Taylor Hall would than appear to clip the right pad of Kallgren as he was cutting across the crease while he slid the puck through the goaltenders five-hole.

Initially the goal was waved off by the officials before a Bruins challenge deemed that the incidental contact did not leave to a goaltender interference and the Bruins were awarded their fourth goal of the evening and Hall his 15th.

After coming in relief for Mrazek just midway through the first period, Kallgren pushed aside 23 of 26 shots he faced, with the team only down to four defencemen as the Leafs pick up another vital two points over another Atlantic Division rival.

Toronto is now looking to the Marlies for emergency replacements, as the timelines for all three players are unclear at the moment. Expect to see an appearance of one or all of Michael Hutchinson, Carl Dahlstrom and Joey Dusczek in the coming games, should their players miss time.

Boston had a four game win streak snapped as a result of the game, and are looking to get back to winning ways and stay afloat in the Atlantic Division race on Thursday when the New Jersey Devils roll through town.

Toronto would also be back in action on Thursday, with some new faces most likely, as the Jets visit the Leafs at the Scotiabank Arena.


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