Maple Leafs-Bruins Preview
The Bruins seek a 10th win in 11 regular-season meetings against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night when the teams meet for the first time since Boston's dramatic Game 7 victory in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Making their first playoff appearance since 2004, the Maple Leafs pushed the Bruins to seven games in the opening round last season and held a 4-1 lead in the third period before Boston scored the next three goals, the last two coming in the final 1:22 of regulation.
Patrice Bergeron scored the equalizer with 51 seconds left in the third and then won it at 6:05 of overtime to eliminate the stunned Maple Leafs.
After Thursday's 4-1 win over Florida, Bruins forward Brad Marchand said the team had been focusing on issues other than the rematch.
"We really haven't looked at the Toronto game at all. We can't do that with the way we're playing right now," Marchand told the team's official website. "We want to focus one shift at a time and really put a good effort in (Thursday night's) game. I think we did that. It wasn't pretty the first period of the game, but we came along and we played pretty well towards the end.
"So, now we can focus on Toronto, and it's really nice to get a good win under our belt going to that game because it will be a very tough game. They're a really good team and playing well right now."
Marchand ended a 12-game drought with one of his team's three third-period goals Thursday as Boston (9-5-1) avoided a third straight loss.
Tuukka Rask made 23 saves and held an opponent to two goals or fewer for the 10th time in 13 starts. He is 8-1-0 with a 1.46 goals-against average in 11 regular-season games against Toronto, with that lone loss coming in 2009.
Thursday's victory was the Bruins' first in regulation since Oct. 24 versus San Jose. They didn't outshoot an opponent in the 1-3-1 stretch and scored more than two goals just once.
"We seemed to get better as the game wore on," coach Claude Julien said. "The third was definitely our best period. Sometimes when your team is struggling it is better to not say anything and just let the players work their way out of it."
The Bruins are 6-1 against Atlantic opponents this year, outscoring them 26-10. They're allowing 1.87 goals per game, which is second lowest in the league.
That doesn't bode well for a stalled Toronto attack.
The Maple Leafs (11-5-0) went five periods without scoring before Phil Kessel's third-period power-play goal in Friday's 2-1 shootout win over New Jersey.
They blew a 1-0 lead in the final 5 minutes, but James van Riemsdyk scored in the shootout while Jonathan Bernier stopped all three Devils' shots after making 34 saves.
"We showed character," Bernier said. "We came back and won that game. It was a great team effort."
James Reimer, who played every game in last season's playoff series with Boston, will start in goal Saturday. He's 4-1-0 in seven starts and is tied with Rask for third in the league with a .942 save percentage.
Kessel scored four goals in last season's playoff series against the Bruins, his former team. He's been held without a point in nine of 11 regular-season games in Boston since joining the Maple Leafs.