Phil Kessel made his much-anticipated 2011-2012 debut at TD Garden on Thursday, sporting the Toronto blue and white. Heading into Thursday’s game, Kessel led the league with 12 points in five games, beginning the regular season on a torrid pace.
The Maple Leaf sniper looked to quiet the consistent boos from Bruins nation, as Tim Thomas took on Jonas Gustavsson in net. This was the first meeting of the season for the Bruins and Maple Leafs.
David Krejci had the first scoring opportunity of the game, but his semi-breakaway shot was stopped on a strong save by Gustavsson.
The Bruins’ line of Krejci, Benoit Pouliot and Rich Peverley applied consistent pressure throughout the first period as they
continued to create chances. Pouliot in particular who had some of the most impressive rushes up the ice.
Shawn Thornton’s first fight of the season came against Toronto bruiser Colton Orr (a former Bruin), with Thornton scoring the takedown against a pretty tough customer in Orr.
Furthermore, good forechecking by Thornton’s linemate Daniel Paille created one of the Bruins’ best scoring chances midway through the first; the fourth line has been creating lots of chances this year off of strong forechecks.
Believe it or not, it was the Bruins’ power play that netted the first goal of the night (yes, a power-play goal, really). A Zdeno Chara bomb led to an easy tap-in goal for Nathan Horton. It was his second of the season, assisted by Chara and Andrew Ference at 10:32 of the first period.
The Bruins quickly added another to take the lead, their second power-play goal of the period, as Zdeno Chara ripped a slap shot from the top of the circle (this time going top shelf) on a beautiful feed from Ference. The second assist was credited to Tyler Seguin, and it was his fifth of the season. This goal came at the 16:05 mark of the period.
The third goal of the night for the Bruins came off a strong net drive by Milan Lucic, followed up by multiple rebound attempts from Chris Kelly, who eventually roofed one past Gustavsson for his second goal of the season.
Ference recorded the other assist, his third of the period, as the goal came at the 17:49 mark of the first period. Ference tied his career high in points and assists in a single game with three assists in that first period.
After an abundance of penalties between both teams, there were some good offensive attacks from the Bruins in that “vulnerable minute” just after a power play.
Some indecision with the puck by Gustavsson led to a chance as Kelly almost connected with Peverley for a goal; it was a nice recovery save by Gustavsson that stone-walled Peverley.
Also, Tyler Seguin showed consistent and aggressive efforts in retrieving the puck; whether along the boards or in the corners, Seguin made appearances in all of the “dirty” areas, something that should certainly bode well for his development as a pro.
A strong opening shift by the Bruins’ line of Marchand, Bergeron and Horton created a couple early chances to start off the third period.
Their offensive output was followed up by a great rush from Seguin and Lucic, producing Boston’s fourth goal of the night; the goal came off a Toronto turnover as Seguin fed Lucic the puck right in front of Gustavsson, who easily slammed home the rebound for his first goal of the season. The goal read Lucic from Seguin and Kelly, giving Seguin his second assist of the night.
All three players on that line had multiple-point nights. Seguin also showed tremendous defensive awareness in the period, using a strong backcheck to break up a Toronto 3-on-2, one of the Leafs’ few chances of the period.
The Bruins extended the lead as a wicked Bergeron wrist shot sealed the deal, giving them a 5-1 lead at the 10:08 mark of the third. The assists were given to Horton and Chara, and it was Bergeron’s first goal of the season.
However, the Bruins were not done there. They added another goal, their sixth of the night, as Lucic returned the favor setting up Seguin in front of the net. It was Seguin’s second goal of the season, and third point of the night. The young stud is really coming into his own right now.
So, how’s that for offensive struggles, huh? The Bruins entered the game with the league’s worst goals-per-game average, but an offensive breakout like this could spark some consistency in that aspect of the game.
Sloppy play by Boston in their own end leads to Toronto’s first goal of the night. Steven Kampfer and Dennis Seidenberg were on defense as David Steckel scored from Nazem Kadri and Dion Phaneuf. The goal coming at the 7:29 mark of the first period.
The Bruins limited themselves by taking penalties in the second period, while also failing to capitalize on their power-play chances as sloppy entrances continued to be a problem.
One of the key turnovers of the period was a mistake by Krejci, as he coughed up the puck trying to swing it back to his defenseman at the point, leading to a Mikhail Grabovski breakaway. Grabovski, however, was shut down by an awesome, and classic, Tim Thomas save.
Steven Kampfer showed a good amount of rust in his game this period. Troubles retrieving the puck and off-target breakout passes were an issue, but this was expected from a young kid just getting back on the ice after recovering from injury. Besides the Kampfer rust, the Bruins owned this period much like the rest of the game, completing their utter domination of the Maple Leafs.
Not much to complain about in terms of the Bruins’ game. The line changes clearly sparked offensive output, and they played well for the most part in their own zone. Momentum and consistency is a key factor in the NHL, and the Bruins hope they can carry this recent success into Saturday night’s matchup with the San Jose Sharks.
FROM THE ROOM
Jonas Gustavsson on the loss to the Bruins:
Zdeno Chara on the improvement to the Bruins’ power play, and other factors in their victory:
Milan Lucic on his confidence level, and what its like to play with Tyler Seguin:
Nathan Horton on the Bruins game vs the Maple Leafs: