Kathryn Riley-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins make sure this time five goals are enough

Matt Kalman
November 11, 2018 - 12:49 am

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Unlike their 8-5 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, the Bruins’ 5-1 win over Toronto at TD Garden paired productive offense with solid defense and earned Boston two points Saturday.

David Pastrnak’s second hat trick of the season led the offense, which also got goals from Patrice Bergeron and Joakim Nordstrom. Just as impressive, however, was how the Bruins limited the Maple Leafs to one John Tavares power-play goal despite facing a lineup stacked with even more speed and skill than the Canucks team that rolled through Boston earlier in the week.

The Bruins’ bounce-back win started with Jaroslav Halak, who was pulled in the second period after allowing five goals in the loss to Vancouver. The Bruins allowed a season-high 20 shots on net in the first period, including nine during an early Toronto power play, but Halak kept the Maple Leafs off the scoreboard and Bergeron’s goal was actually the only score of the first period.

“I think team-wise, individual-wise, we wanted to just come out and play our game. Obviously we took that penalty at the beginning and they kind of got into the game,” said Halak, who finished with 40 saves. “They had a good start, you have to give them credit but I think we bounced back and the second and third period I think we played really well.

Once the Bruins started playing more in Toronto’s zone, their first line took over. Pastrnak had an assist to go with his three goals, and Bergeron and Brad Marchand had two assists each. The Bruins’ top line had been limited to two 5-on-5 goals the past five games, but it matched that total against the Maple Leafs.

Meanwhile, Tavares, Mitchell Marner and Zach Hyman were point-less 5-on-5 against Bergeron’s line and the defense pair of Zdeno Chara and Matt Grzelcyk. In the third period Toronto coach Mike Babcock even switched Marner and second-line right wing Kasperi Kapanen in a fruitless search for a spark.

“I think they were set to play a good, solid defensive game today,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said about the first line. “[Assistant coach] Jay [Pandolfo] had them in the room doing some video of some of the breakdowns either yesterday or this morning. They realized they needed to reset in that area a little more, stopping and starting. They’re pretty good that way. It’s why they’re, I think, the best two-way line in the league. They don’t let it slide very often. I think we saw that tonight.”

Beyond the play of Bergeron’s line, the Bruins got their best four-line performance in some time. David Krejci’s line not only got a goal from Nordstrom but slowed down Nazem Kadri’s second line. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson centered Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen in his season debut and created some offense while not hurting the Bruins without the puck. And the new fourth line of Sean Kuraly centering David Backes and Chris Wagner had a couple shifts when it pinned the Maple Leafs in their defensive zone and brought some much-needed physicality.

If there was any sour taste left over from the loss to the Canucks, it was washed away by the Bruins’ rededication to defense and sustained ability to score.