The Bergeron line is on fire.
Never mind that the Bruins were limping into tonight’s game having blown late leads in the previous two games and losing their grip on the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin never wavered, and the brief two game losing streak is history.
Seguin scored twice, Bergeron once and Marchand tallied two helpers to lead the the Bruins to a lunch pail-style 4-2 win over the gritty and fast Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at TD Center in downtown Boston.
David Krejci also scored for the Bruins, who kept pace in the Northeast Division as well as the conference with a record of 15-3-3, the 33 points one short of the Conference leading Montreal Canadiens.
Nazem Kadri and Jay McClement scored goals for the Leafs, who fell to 15-10-0. Toronto goal tender Ben Scrivens stopped 21 of 24 shots but it wasn’t enough as backup Anton Khudobin recorded 25 saves in another solid start.
The Bergeron goal was almost an “excuse me” happenstance, the result of some serious board work in the neutral zone by Marchand to knock the puck loose to a streaking Tyler Seguin who blew past the Maple Leafs’ defense and put a wrister right into the pads of goal tender Ben Scrivens…
…and Bergeron, who like everyone else was trailing the play, had the rebound pop right in front of him from point blank range to put the Bruins up 1-0 to end the 1st period.
The Leafs tied it up at 2:32 of the second, Nazem Kadri taking a perfect cross ice pass on a break from center Jay McClement, the puck hitting Kadri’s tape at the bottom of the left circle to easily beat Khudobin, who was getting the start for a resting Tuukka Rask.
Five minutes later Seguin put his snap shot on display, blasting a wicked drive from the right point off a feed from Marchand to give the Bruins a one goal lead, then David Krejci scored the eventual game winner on a pretty backhander, floating in from the left behind the defense and taking the odd angle rebound and sliding it into the open net behind the sprawling Scrivens for a 3-1 lead.
Things got a little tense in the final frame, as the Maple Leafs attacked relentlessly, finally paying off when Jay McClement redirected a spinning drive from Mikhail Gabovski to get Toronto to within one goal, but the Bruins were finally able to close out a game with a lead in the third, Seguin hitting the empty net at a deep angle for the final 4-2 tally.
Despite the loss, the Leafs hold the 5th seed ion the conference with 30 points, and their path to the playoffs now take an easier stretch as they play seven of their next ten at home, including a home and home series with the Bruins later in the month. Saturday finds them at home hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins before traveling to Winnipeg on Tuesday.
The road is much tougher for the Bruins starting on Saturday when the Philadelphia Flyers invade TD Center for a 1:00pm start before going back to back on the road at Ottawa on Monday and then to Pittsburgh on Tuesday – the roadie a part of a stretch where they play 6 of their next 8 on the road.
If the second line continues to play as aggressively as they have the past three games, the goaltending continues to be solid and they can pick up some offense from the other lines, the toughest stretch of their season should be their finest hour.
Now about that interior defense…push those guys out from in front of the net, will ya?