In what was dubbed “Kesselmania 2″ by some outlets tonight, the Maple Leafs came back to Boston tonight looking for a little payback for last Saturday night's drubbing. Both teams started fast as Jason Blake's short side bid for Toronto was denied by Tuukka Rask and Michael Ryder ringed one off the post for Boston.
Last Saturday, the Bruins racked up seven goals and I mentioned the Leafs goalies weren't so much “the duck in the shooting gallery” but they just didn't make any saves and were beaten on several harmless, innocent shots. Tonight, it was more of the same. Just 8:01 into the contest, it was Mark Stuart going five hole on Vesa Toskala. Problem for Toronto was the fact that Stuart was sixty feet away. The play started on a face off to Toskala's right. The Bruins won the draw to Daniel Paille who tapped it back to Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk feathered a pass to Stuart who was backing up towards the middle of the offensive zone at the blue line. He one timed a blast, with no screen in front with the exception of a Leaf forward trying to block the shot, and the Maple Leaf netminder just blew it. It kind of reminded me of the Ottawa goal that Tim Thomas let slip past him on Thanksgiving weekend. Only Stuart was sixty feet away and the Thomas goal was ten to fifteen feet away.
Second period started out fast for the Bruins. With Ian White not quite seated in the box, Derek Morris ripped a blast from the top of the circle that beat Toskala. The power play lasted exactly six seconds and just thirty five seconds in, it was 2-0. Toskala probably should have had this one too but there was traffic in front.
With the lead extended, the Leafs started the extra curricular activities. Jamal Mayers and Mark Stuart met at center ice but it was over quickly as the two combatants slipped down to the ice. Not to worry, four seconds after the matching minors ended, they dropped the mittens again. Each guy got their five minutes worth on this scrap.
With nine minutes left in the period, the Leafs were pressing to get on the board. Another defensive mistake at the Boston blue line cost the blue and white. This time it was David Krejci taking in from center ice. He put on a series of head and shoulder fakes that had Toskala completely fooled. Krejci deposited it into the empty side of the net and like that it was 3-0, Boston. Just prior to that goal, Tuukka made a game changing save on Thomas Kaberle. Kaberle scores there and it's 2-1 Boston with the momentum going to the visitors.
I wish I was in the Toronto room between the second and third periods to hear Leafs coach, Ron Wilson. They came out fast, threw their weight around and made it a contest. Mikhail Grabovski put the visitors on the board just eighteen seconds into the period. Only 3:51 later, it was Nikolai Kulemin beating Rask and Bruin fans were squirming in their seats. Would “he” do it? Would Kessel come back to Boston and break the hearts of Bruin fans?
Not tonight. After the second Leaf goal, Claude Julien immediately called a timeout to settle the guys down.”We didn't react very well early in that third period. First shift we had two guys go right through our center and our winger. They got the momentum. We didn't do a very good job early. So it was about settling them down and making sure we didn't panic I thought that our power play did a good job of bailing us out when they got that opportunity.” Both teams were getting their shots but with no results on the scoreboard. With time winding down, veteran Mark Recchi single handedly put the game out of reach. With the B's pressing for the final nail in the coffin, the line of Krejci, Wheeler and Recchi had their hammers. Their offensive pressure led to several shots and a missed open net by Krejci.Blake Wheeler picked up the loose puck and found Recchi at the back post. Rex made no mistake and the B's were up 4-2. Recchi scored an empty net goal with twelve seconds left in the game to finish up the scoring.
Once again, the Bruin special teams were very good. The power play was a deceptive 2-4 with goals by Morris and Recchi. I say deceptive because their first two power plays came just sixteen seconds into the game before anyone was really warmed up. The penalty kill was a perfect 2-2 suffocating Kessel and the Leaf offense.
Tonight's three stars are as follows:
3 – Mark Recchi. Two goals for the crafty veteran to close this one for good.
2 – Derek Morris – He was a horse tonight. Even chipped in with a power play goal
1 – David Krejci – Had the game winning goal and an assist. His game is really coming on strong after a slow first quarter of the season.
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Written by Jim Mulligan