Game Centre: Maple Leafs fall flat to Bruins in Boston

Game Centre: Maple Leafs fall flat to Bruins in Boston
BOSTON—Once again, the Maple Leafs were not the better team. This time, just for a change however, Toronto lost in regulation because of it.

The Boston Bruins took it to the Maple Leafs – physically and offensively — and skated off to a 6-3 win Saturday night in a game involving two teams that don’t like each other very much.

The Bruins’ Brad Marchand tussles with Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev during first-period action in Boston on Saturday night.  (Maddie Meyer / GETTY IMAGES)

That ended a Leafs’ points streak of five wins and an overtime loss, during the last two games of which the other teams — Buffalo and Detroit — had played the better game.

“I was disappointed, I thought we’d come in here and play real well, especially after (Thursday’s overtime loss). Obviously we didn’t,” said Leafs coach Mike Babcock. “We had a pretty good run. Now we have to regroup.

“Every once in a while, you get fed your lunch. Today was one of those days.”

Perhaps more remarkably, the game featured two fights, three game misconducts, one 10-minute misconduct a boarding penalty, 98 minutes in penalties and at least one hit — Zach Hyman on Charlie McAvoy — that was under review by the league.

“It’s a rivalry game, right?” said Leafs centre Auston Matthews. “It’s going to be physical. I thought it was a good fight by (Nazem Kadri) to give us a wakeup call on the bench and get everybody going. We dug ourselves a hole that we couldn’t climb out of.”

Nothing seemed quite in sync for the Leafs, even for the top line, which is the only one that’s intact since William Nylander returned. John Tavares (minus-3), Mitch Marner (minus-3) and Hyman (minus-1) were outplayed by Boston’s big guns of David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand.

Matthews and Andreas Johnsson each had a goal and an assist. Travis Dermott had the other goal. Jake Gardiner had two assists. The Leafs’ offence all came in the third period, after Boston built a 4-0 lead.

“In the old days what you used to do is you could skate around in warmup, you could growl at each other and it actually made a difference because there was someone out there that could actually whack you,” the coach said. “It doesn t work like that now and you re not expected — if someone hits you hard, you re not expected to take a penalty. You re expected to keep playing, so it s different.”

Eventually, Kadri and Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo dropped the gloves in the second period. Kadri had stripped the puck off Carlo, and Carlo stripped it back in a tough head-to-head shift. It was the Leafs’ second fighting major of the season, and first since Josh Leivo dropped the gloves Oct. 11 against Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser.

Hyman later laid out McAvoy —– just back from a concussion — with a shoulder-to-chest late hit. That was followed by a near head shot by Chris Wagner on Morgan Rielly in mid-ice, prompting Ron Hainsey to drop the gloves.

Fights that just don’t happen anymore were happening, aided, of course, by the lopsided score.

Wagner: “He (Rielly) was the one with the puck, so you can’t really cheap-shot someone. I thought it was a pretty clean hit for the most part, stayed on my feet. When something like that happens, (Hyman on McAvoy) you want to respond in the correct way.”

Matthews: “I mean, that’s hockey and it’s our job to respond.”

Torey Krug: “I thought we did a good job of responding after that (Hyman hit on McAvoy), you know, going hard against their skill. Obviously Wagner came through and hits their top moving defenceman. It’s a tough part of the game.”
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