Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports

Maple Leafs 3, Bruins 2: No loser point happiness here

Ty Anderson
November 11, 2017 - 3:08 am

In just over a month of hockey, the Bruins have had plenty of nights where the end result could have been a lot better, but the point(s) grabbed said more than enough.

Friday night at the Air Canada Centre was not one of those nights.

In Toronto for the start of a critical back-to-back, home-and-home with the Maple Leafs, the Bruins had no excuse for a loss.

Yes, the Maple Leafs are a stronger team than they’ve basically ever been in this post-2005 lockout world, but they were undoubtedly missing their best player in Auston Matthews (upper-body). The Bruins, meanwhile, were getting their most efficient scorer (Brad Marchand) and fourth-line glue (Noel Acciari) back in action. The Bruins were also looking for a rebound game after what was a frustrating finish in a 4-2 loss to the Rangers in Manhattan on Wednesday night.

Instead, the Bruins put up a rather listless first period, and allowed a late second-period goal from Patrice Bergeron to be answered just 4:06 later (and with just 16 seconds left in the frame) by the Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk. This, unfortunately, became a theme.

The Bruins whiffed on countless power-play opportunities before David Pastrnak struck with just one second left on a third-period power-play opportunity, giving the Black and Gold a one-goal lead with 5:30 left in the third period. This was by all means the perfect sequence of events for the B’s, as the power-play goal came moments after a successful penalty kill that came with Boston’s top killer (Zdeno Chara) in the box.

In essence, the Pastrnak goal should have been the deathblow against the Leafs. Especially when gifted another power-play chance a minute after that goal.

But the Bruins reverted back to their recent man-advantage futility (they finished the night 1-for-4 on the power play and have now scored on just two of their last 16 power-play opportunities), and pumped life back into the dead-as-could-be Maple Leafs.

This, along with some botched should-have-been icings, allowed another game-tying goal to come off the stick of van Riemsdyk, and robbed the B’s of what should have been a straight-up massive regulation win over a divisional team they’re chasing.

It got worse for the Bruins, too, when a Pastrnak turnover in the offensive zone gave the Leafs numbers the other way, and more than enough space for Patrick Marleau to score the game-winning goal and secure a come from behind win for the Leafs.

With the win, the Leafs improved to six points clear of the Bruins in the Atlantic Division.

It doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but even early, this is a major difference compared to the three-point gap that the Bruins could have had with a second power-play connection or even an icing or two late in regulation. It’s also something that could make the difference when you’re talking about this Bruins team battling with five different teams for a wild card spot or just two for a playoff spot within the Atlantic’s playoff bracket.

And this is what it comes back, too.

Losses to Western Conference teams are rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but it’s losses within the division that can really burn this team. Those losses become four-point games, basically, and if you lose enough of them, you're finding yourself in the expectation adjustment game, which is not where the increasingly healthy B's want to find themselves in November.

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