Pastrnak’s goal sends Bruins past Maple Leafs 3-2
TORONTO (AP) — A pair of miscues proved costly for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Boston Bruins.
Sean Kuraly and David Pastrnak pounced on mistakes by Toronto defensemen Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev late in the second period and turned a deficit into a lead as Boston grabbed a 3-2 victory Saturday.
“We came out and played the game we wanted to,” said Toronto winger Mitch Marner, who scored his 17th goal of the season. “Just made a couple of mistakes and they didn’t miss.”
Kuraly set up both Pastrnak and David Krejci for the first three-point game of his career for Boston.
Tuukka Rask made 30 saves as the Bruins won the season series 3-1 and moved two points back of the Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division.
“Two big points,” Kuraly said. “There was no other way to look at it.”
Andreas Johnsson also scored for Toronto. Michael Hutchinson stopped 26 shots.
The Bruins beat the Leafs 5-1 at home on Nov. 10. Toronto countered 16 days later with a 4-2 victory at Scotiabank Arena. Boston won the third matchup 6-3 on Dec. 8 in a game that had 98 minutes in penalties.
It’s only January, but it’s there’s a good chance the clubs could meet in a rematch of last spring’s playoff series that went the distance — a task Nazem Kadri said the Leafs would gladly welcome.
“We’re always looking forward to playing these guys,” the center said. “They’re a great hockey team, they’re well-coached.
“Tons of credit goes to them, but we’re a good team, too.”
Down 2-1 in the second, Boston got even at 14:47 when Gardiner fanned on a breakout attempt before having the puck stolen by Chris Wagner, who fed Kuraly, who scored his fifth.
Kuraly then intercepted Zaitsev’s soft pass behind the net before feeding Pastrnak, who buried his 26th past a surprised Hutchinson with 13.7 seconds left.
Pastrnak, who took a puck off the cheek in warmup, now has 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in 15 career regular-season games against Toronto — including six goals and three assists in four outings this season — after scoring five times and setting up eight against the Leafs in the 2018 playoffs.
Boston’s top line of Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand entered Saturday with a combined 117 points in 122 regular-season contests against Toronto.
Hutchinson scrambled to stop a chance by Pastrnak early in the third to keep his team in it before Kadri missed the net from a difficult angle at the other end midway through the period.
Auston Matthews, who has just one goal in his last nine games, had Rask down with four minutes to go, but the puck rolled off his stick on what would be Toronto’s best opportunity to tie.
“You’ve got to push through it,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. “A little struggle in your life never hurt anybody. Just dig in.”
Boston led 1-0 after the first, but the Leafs got even at 7:37 of the second on a strange play. Johnsson’s quick shot went off Rask, off Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller and dribbled into the net for the winger’s 10th.
Toronto’s dormant power play — 1 for 36 over its last 13 games when removing a 3-for-3 effort against Florida on Dec. 20 — came to life 1:53 later to give the Leafs their first lead when Marner blasted a slap shot past Rask on the short side.
Hutchinson, who spent three seasons in the minors with the Bruins after getting drafted 77th overall by Boston in 2008, got his fifth straight start for Toronto with No. 1 netminder Frederik Andersen — sidelined since Dec. 28 with a groin injury — out with the flu and backup Garret Sparks still recovering from a concussion.
“We knew it was going to be a close, hard-fought game right,” Hutchinson said. “It was just that.”
Krejci opened the scoring with 1:39 left in a first period where Toronto carried the balance of play after an early Boston surge.
Kuraly turned back in the offensive zone and fed Krejci, who scored his ninth.
The Bruins had two golden opportunities to take the lead early, but Marchand missed a wide-open net and Bergeron fired wide on a 2-on-1 break.
Rask, who improved to 5-0-0 with a .955 save percentage and a 1.28 goals-against average in his past five starts, then stopped Kadri on a wraparound before Zach Hyman’s deflection went just wide.
Kasperi Kapanen had another great chance for Toronto prior to Krejci’s opener, but Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk blocked his effort.
“For the most part we were pretty dominant,” Kadri said. “A couple costly mistakes that we just need to shake off.”
NOTES: Charlie McAvoy, who missed 20 games with a concussion earlier this season, returned to the Bruins lineup after missing the last seven with a foot injury. Boston had its top blue-line corps dressed together for the first time this season. Pastrnak and Krejci are the only players on the roster to play in each of their team’s 45 games this season. ... Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was in attendance.
Leafs: Host Colorado on Monday.
Bruins: Host Montreal on Monday.