It was deja vu for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Beantown Thursday night.
For the second time in as many trips to Boston, Toronto allowed a Bruins forward to register three goals as the Maple Leafs fell 8-5 before 17,565 onlookers at the TD Banknorth Garden.
David Krecji recorded his first NHL hat-trick to raise his season total to 11. His third goal of the game came late in the third period to seal the win by the B's, who improved to 22-5-4 on the season.
Toronto, which saw its three-game win streak snapped, dropped a game below .500 to 12-13-6.
Back on Nov. 6 at home, rookie forward Blake Wheeler scored his first ever NHL hat-trick in a 5-2 Bruins win.
Krecji's first two markers were highlight reel material, as he deftly maneuvered the puck around both Leaf goalies, Vesa Toskala and Curtis Joesph, and slid the puck into a wide open cage.
There was plenty of lamp lighting in the Garden last night as both teams shone offensively, but the news wasn't so bright for the goaltenders.
All four netminders were pressed into service last night as 13 goals were scored on 63 shots. The only keeper to not allow a goal was Boston's Manny Fernandez, who stopped all 13 Leaf shots he faced, after coming in for a shell-shocked Tim Thomas.
Fernandez's best save came on a Jason Blake deflection early in the third with the Bruins narrowly ahead 6-5.
Leafs starting netminder Toskala was pulled in the opening period by coach Ron Wilson after allowing two goals on his first five shots.
He came back to start the third, after his replacement, Joseph, was bombarded in the middle stanza, surrendering four goals on 16 Bruin shots.
Boston backstopper Thomas had an equally shaky night in the Bruins cage, giving up five goals on just 18 shots. He entered the game second in the NHL in both goals against average and save percentage. That's likely to take a hit after yesterday's sub-par performance.
Bruins flashy forward Phil Kessel had two goals on the night for Boston. He leapfrogged Washington superstar Alexander Ovechkin for third in the NHL goals with 21. Ovechkin notched his 20th yesterday in a 4-2 Capitals win at home against St. Louis.
The goal was a milestone for U.S-born Kessel, who reached the 100-point plateau in his second NHL season.
Michael Ryder, Marc Savard, and Marco Sturm, who left the game in the first period with a knee injury, also scored for Boston. Toronto got goals from Nik Antropov, Jason Blake, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Mikhail Grabovsky, and Pavel Kubina.
Leafs defenseman Mike Van Ryn was forced to leave the game in the third period with a possible concussion after he was hit into the glass by Boston bruiser Milan Lucic. Van Ryn had a cut along the bridge of his nose and looked shaky heading to the Leafs dressing room following the hit.
Van Ryn was playing in just his second game back with the Leafs after missing 34 days and 14 games with a broken hand and concussion suffered when his head was slammed into the boards by Montreal's Tom Kostopolous back on Nov. 8.
If there was a silver lining in the Boston massacre last night, it was with just over four minutes gone into the second period, the Leafs were behind, 5-1. When the buzzer sounded after 40 minutes, the Leafs were only trailing 6-5. It's a testament to a young Leafs team which refuses to throw in the towel, at any point of the hockey game.
Toronto will be in Pittsburgh on Saturday, before heading to Atlanta to play the Thrashers on Monday. The Leafs will close out their pre-Christmas schedule on Tuesday with a home date against the Dallas Stars.
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