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Bruins Squeak by Leafs, Ruin Carlyle's Home Debut

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 6: The Boston Bruins celebrate Tyler Seguin goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre March 6, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images
Cory DuceyAnalyst IIIMarch 7, 2012

Randy Carlyle was on a high getting his first win in his first game as the Toronto Maple Leafs' bench boss.

So how does one top that?  Get a win streak going and get it done on your home ice.

The Boston Bruins have a slide of their own, but not the kind a hockey team wants to see: A two-game losing streak.

The Bruins wanted to end the streak and what better way to do it than against a team that is on the outside looking in?

Toronto is just five points out of a playoff spot and while time and games are not in their favor, it is far from a mathematical elimination.

Leaf nation is looking to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2003.  They have yet to crack the postseason since before the lockout. 

The Bruins were a perfect 4-0 against the Leafs this season coming into the Air Canada Centre, and looked to extend that streak by playing spoiler and advancing their point standings (Boston is currently in second place in the Eastern Conferencebehind the New York Rangers).


Opening Frame

Carl Gunnarsson opened the scoring with a wrist shot halfway from the slot that beat Thomas just three minutes in.

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 6: The Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate Carl Gunnarsson goal against the Boston Bruins during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre March 6, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

Just over 10 minutes later, Jordan Caron cleaned up the garbage to knot the game up at one apiece.

Joe Corvo ripped one from the point and it went off of Mike Komisarek's skate and right to Benoit Pouliot, who was standing to the left and behind the net of Jonas Gustavsson.  Pouliot looked like he tried to bank it off the Toronto netminder but instead, it trickled just in front of Gustavsson's left pad.  Caron was Johnny on the spot and popped in the loose puck.

The first frame ended in a 1-1 tie.


Second Frame, Let the Score-Lights Shine!

Out of the nine goals scored in the game, six were in the middle frame.

The Leafs regained their one-goal lead on Brad Marchand's hooking penalty in the first minute of the period.  On the ensuing power play, John-Michael Liles picked up some garbage of his own as former Bruin Phil Kessel shot from the point.  Joffery Lupul tried to tip it, but it went off bodies with goalie Tim Thomas trying to scramble from right to left.  With Liles to the left of Thomas, he popped it in the wide open left side.  2-1 Leafs.

Just a minute and five seconds later, Tyler Seguin made sure the Bruins were not losing ground.  B's Captain Zdeno Chara skated around a couple of Leaf defenders and wristed a shot to Gustavsson's left side.  Seguin tipped in the shot with the shaft of his stick and the game was once again knotted.  Two all.

The Bruins offense started to show that quick strike with another goal just 41 seconds later.  Caron skated into the Leafs' zone and powered his way to Gustavsson.  He tried a backhand, but the Leaf netminder turned it away.  Leafs defensive specialist Luke Shenn tried to power Caron out of a good shot, but ended up pushing Caron into Gustavsson's left pad.  Chris Kelly quickly pounced on the loose puck to put it in the net.  B's lead for the first time in the game 3-2.

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 6: The Boston Bruins celebrate Jordan Caron goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre March 6, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

Three goals in three minutes of play during the middle frame.

Things settle down somewhat offensively as the next goal didn't occur until the Leafs went on a 5-on-3 power play.

Kessel got a great shot off from the top of the right face-off circle.  Thomas got a piece of it, but it trickled over his glove to roll in and the game is once again knotted up.  Three all.

That was Toronto's second power-play goal in as many tries.

Caron got his second goal in the game by way of a cross-ice pass from Chara.  Caron was left alone to the left of Gustavsson and he redirected the low pass in for the lead.  4-3, Bruins.

Shortly after, Milan Lucic skated along the left corner in the Leafs' end and made a quick pass to Seguin.  Seguin perfectly times the pass and ripped it past Gustavsson's glove side to extend their lead. 5-3 Bruins.


Final Frame, Leafs go for the Push

The Leafs knew that the Bruins were undefeated when up by two goals or more in any game this season.  If they wanted to gain ground in the standings, they had to break that record.

With 6:47 left in the game, Mikhail Grabovski was sent off to the races and he got behind the lone Bruin defender by way of a stretch pass from Clark MacArthur.  Grabovski beat Thomas outright on the glove side to get the game within one. 5-4, Bruins

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 6: Mikhail Grabovski #84 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre March 6, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

With the final minute of play, the Leafs empty their net for the extra attacker and fortune was showing a grin to the Leafs as Kelly flipped the puck over the glass for a delay of game.

The Leafs now have a 6-on-4 in the last 17 seconds.

Unfortunately for the Leafs, it's just a grin as the Bruins prevent any further damage and take the game in regulation and win their fifth straight against the Leafs with a final score of 5-4.

The Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning both lose their games, but Washington did gain a point by losing their game in extra fun.

Toronto currently has their sights on eighth-place Winnipeg as that is who they need to catch to get back in the extra season.

The Bruins keep their three-point lead over Ottawa in the Northeast as the Senators won their game last night.


The Playoff Picture Still Cloudy

The playoff picture is far from clear at this point in the East from second place down.  There are about 15-17 games left and the point spread is just nine points from the Bruins to Winnipeg.

The New York Rangers should be able to lock down first in the East as they currently have a 10-point spread over the Bruins.

Even still, eighth place is far from a lock.  Eight points separate 14th place to eighth.

The 13th-place New York Islanders have just a four-game win differential than the Jets.  While the outcome is unlikely, it cannot be ruled out with a possible 32 points still in play.

The Western Conference will be a fight between the St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings

The Stretch is soon upon us and it should only get interesting from here.


This is Cory Ducey saying "Hit Hard, But Keep It Clean"

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