The Toronto Maple Leafs were in Boston to take on the Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday night. The Leafs, coming off of a loss to the Blue Jackets Monday night, would look to rebound with Michael Hutchinson in net. The Bruins lost the first meeting between the teams on Saturday night in overtime, and Tuesday was their chance to get back at the Blue and White.
Bruins defensemen Torey Krug took an interference penalty on Leafs’ forward Frederik Gauthier just four minutes into the game, but the Leafs were unable to make good use of the powerplay. The Maple Leafs have struggled with some aspects of the man advantage so far this year, particularly their zone entries. The rust looked evident on their first power play as they were unable to get any threatening chances. David Pastrnak opened the scoring officially at 17:15 of the first period with a beautiful goal, as he put his stick between his legs and shot the puck through Hutchinson to give the Bruins the 1-0 lead. This was just minutes after he had a goal disallowed. Leafs coach Mike Babcock chose to challenge the goal as offside, and upon further review, Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron had entered the zone early. The Leafs dodged a bullet being down 1-0 after the first, with the Bruins outshooting Toronto 12-10. Considering the first period has been a major area of concern for Toronto, this was a fairly positive period despite the goal.
The Maple Leafs killed off a Jake Muzzin tripping call to start the second after going 1-for-2 on the PK in the first period. Kasperi Kapanen tied the game at 4:23 of the second on a nice pass from Alex Kerfoot. The goal was a great example of Kerfoot’s great work in transition this season. Justin Holl was credited with the other assist on the goal.
However, Brad Marchand put the Bruins back in front less than two minutes later on an absurd pass from David Pastrnak through the slot. Although it’s an area that the Leafs should have on lockdown defensively, credit where credit is due to the Bruins’ Pastrnak on a pass that most of the best players in the league would have trouble making accurately. The Leafs power play did strike in the period on a goal from Alex Kerfoot in the slot with a nice feed from Kasperi Kapanen, returning the favour for the nice pass on the first goal. Hutchinson had a strong period stopping 12 of 13 shots, and kept the Leafs in the game. The shots in the period ended at 13-12 for the Bruins, and the score was tied at 2-2 after two periods.
Brett Ritchie broke the tie 6:35 into the period, firing a loose puck past Hutchinson to put the Bruins up 3-2. It was a bit of an awkward play, as Jake DeBrusk’s shot hit a foot and bounced to Ritchie. It changed the angle for Hutchinson just enough to fool him, and Leafs’ forward Frederik Gauthier missed his assignment on Ritchie because of that. It was a bit of bad luck for the Leafs. After a fairly strong effort in the first two periods for Toronto, the Bruins unfortunately took over in the third period, and former Leaf Par Lindholm scored to make it 4-2 Bruins in the late going. The Leafs got two power plays following the Lindholm goal, but it wasn’t enough as the Bruins got their answer to Saturday nights’ game. Boston outshot Toronto 14-8 in the final frame, and won the game on home ice. Toronto falls to 5-4-2 on the season.
Leafs Player of the Game
Kasperi Kapanen had another very strong outing, and I would say earned the honours for me as their most impressive player on Tuesday. Kapanen had a goal and an assist in 15:53 of ice-time, and is earning trust back from coach Mike Babcock after a poor start to the season. Honourable mentions for Player of the Game go to goalie Michael Hutchinson and centre Freddy Gauthier.
The Leafs have a couple of days off before they have another set of back-to-back games this weekend. The San Jose Sharks are in Toronto on Friday night, and then the Leafs travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada.