TORONTO – Brad Marchand was the centre of attention heading into Saturday.
The Bruins captain had a relatively quiet night by his standards — until the game landed on his stick.
Marchand scored the winner at 4:52 of overtime to snap an eight-game goal drought as Boston downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3.
The clincher came after Bruins winger David Pastrnak was stopped on a breakaway in the extra period by Joseph Woll following a William Nylander turnover. Then with the Toronto netminder between Pastrnak and Marchand, the former flipped a pass over Woll for his teammate to flag down with a glove and fire into the empty cage.
“Great handle by him,” said Pastrnak, who finished with a goal and two assists. “So happy for him.”
Trent Frederic and Kevin Shattenkirk also scored for Boston (16-4-3). Linus Ullmark made 37 saves as the Bruins registered consecutive victories after dropping three straight in regulation.
“One of our rivals, Original Six, Saturday night — nothing better than that,” Pastrnak said of the Leafs. “That’s why we play. Always fun to win. Especially here.”
Auston Matthews scored twice for Toronto (12-6-4), while Max Domi added his first with the Leafs, who battled back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to earn a point. Joseph Woll stopped 33 shots.
“Feels good to contribute,” Domi said. “But that (crap’s) irrelevant when you don’t win.”
Frederic put the Bruins ahead 3-2 at 13:10 of the third period when he poked home a rebound for his sixth, but Toronto tied it in the dying seconds when Matthews scored his second of the night, and 16th overall, off a pass from Mitch Marner.
“Hard-played hockey game,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Not your typical early December hockey game.”
Woll made a breakaway stop on Pavel Zacha in OT and Ullmark denied Marner to set up Marchand’s dramatic winner.
“Two competitive teams,” Matthews said. “They’ve been the class of the league the last two years … could have went either way.”
The teams met for the first time since Boston’s 3-2 shootout victory Nov. 2 at TD Garden when Marchand and Toronto defenceman Timothy Liljegren were involved in a sequence that resulted in the latter crashing into the boards and suffering a high ankle sprain.
The Leafs held a team meeting following the incident — which went unpenalized and didn’t result in a suspension — with Keefe telling reporters in the aftermath he “hated everything” about his team’s lack of a physical response with Liljegren, who hasn’t played since, down on the ice in obvious distress.
There wouldn’t, however, be any fireworks Saturday.
Boston opened the scoring at 10:45 of the first when Pastrnak dashed over the blue line and rifled his 14th over Woll’s shoulder to become the first player to score 50 times in 2023.
Matthews hit the post early in the second before Pastrnak found a pinching Shattenkirk with a perfect feed for the defenceman to roof his first with the Bruins at 7:31.
Toronto had a couple of good chances before Boston doubled its lead, but Matthews got the home side back within one at 12:06 when he scored his 15th with Ullmark out of position and Boston defenceman Charlie McAvoy trying to play goal on a scramble.
“He was a beast out there,” Keefe said of Matthews, who had one goal in his previous nine games. “He was all over the puck.”
Domi, who’s father Tie was a Toronto fan favourite, then added his first with the Leafs at 2:11 of the third to knot the score after taking a pass from Nick Robertson and moving in all alone.
“That was a tough game out there,” said Keefe, whose group is 6-1-2 over its last nine. “Fast and competitive. I thought our guys hung right there, fought their way back.
“And got us another point.”
Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov sat out with an illness. Martin Jones was recalled from the American Hockey League on an emergency basis to serve as Woll’s backup.
CLOSING IN ON 1,000
Leafs captain John Tavares now has 996 career points after picking up an assist.
“Just trying to keep my head down and going to work,” the veteran centre said before the game. “No doubt a special milestone.”
Marchand was asked about life without Patrice Bergeron after the former Bruins captain retired in the summer.
“Lonely,” he quipped. “We spent a lot of time together … it’s different.”
Boston visits Columbus on Sunday, while Toronto is off until Thursday’s game in Ottawa.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2023.
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