for this game

Kessel, Schaefer give Bruins some breathing room

Mar 28, 2008 - 4:13 AM
By Tony Lee PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- Even as their ranks have become leaner this week, the Boston Bruins managed to strengthen their playoff chances.

Phil Kessel and Peter Schaefer each had a goal and an assist and Tim Thomas made 30 saves as the shorthanded Bruins completed a sweep of their home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 4-2 victory Thursday night.

Marco Sturm and Glen Murray also scored for Boston (39-28-10), which pulled even with idle Philadelphia (39-28-10) for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

"Those (two) points, we needed them immensely," Thomas said.

Rookie Jiri Tlusty scored and Vesa Toskala stopped 29 shots for the Maple Leafs (35-33-10), who were eliminated from playoff contention and will miss out on the postseason for the third straight time - a first in franchise history.

"You can say there's always next year, but three years in a row, it's getting on your nerves," Toronto center Nik Antropov said. "It's not a fun feeling, I'm telling you that."

The Bruins, who have failed to reach the postseason two straight times, entered with a two-point lead over Washington in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Capitals (39-31-8), however, kept pace by posting a 4-3 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Again missing Marc Savard (back) and defenseman Andrew Ference (knee), the Bruins learned earlier in the day that second-leading goal-scorer Chuck Kobasew would miss at least four weeks with a fractured tibia.

Filling the holes has become paramount down the stretch.

"We've got a lot of guys stepping up. That's what good teams do," Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward said. "It was a real team effort and we played as solid as we can as a team."

Rookie David Krejci, who has replaced Savard on the first line, had a goal and three assists in the home-and-home set.

"He's always been a calm person and thrives on (the pressure)," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "He was the best player at Providence (of the American Hockey League) this time last year, so it's not unknown for him to be a real good player."

Following its recent string of misfortune, Boston gained the upper hand Thursday with a bit of a break.

With the game tied at 1-1 early in the third period, Schaefer flipped a pass up the ice to Kessel ahead of the Maple Leafs' defense. Toronto's bench wanted an offsides call, and blue-liner Staffan Kronwall raised his hand in search of the whistle, which never came.

Alone in front, Kessel beat Toskala to the glove side at 5:47 for his 18th goal of the season.

"It looked like it was (offsides), but I can't confirm it," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. "It opened their game up, and they're good at that game - better than we are."

"(Kessel) might've been offsides, but you know, you have breaks go against you, and if he was offsides, then we got a lucky break," Schaefer said. "You never know how the linesman is going to see it."

Murray made it 3-1 during a power play just over five minutes later. After defenseman Pavel Kubina pulled Toronto within a goal at 15:01, Schaefer restored Boston's two-goal bulge 23 seconds later with his ninth of the season.

A rapid first period saw a stretch of nearly 12 minutes without a whistle until a glove save by Thomas with 7:18 remaining stopped action. Soon thereafter, Krejci - who had two assists - picked up a loose puck in his own zone and skated the length of the ice before centering to Sturm, who fired a one-timer past Toskala.

Toronto answered early in the second, when captain Mats Sundin gained control behind the net and found Antropov in front. As Thomas and a defender moved in on Antropov, he flipped a backhand pass to Tlusty, who had no problem depositing the puck into the vacant net at 4:47 for his eighth goal.

Sundin (groin) and Antropov (knee) returned to the lineup for Toronto after missing five and four games, respectively.

The Maple Leafs had won five of six before dropping the pair of games to the Bruins.

"If we played the way we have the last 25 games all year, we wouldn't be in this situation," Toronto's Alex Steen said. "But it's disappointing. Everyone was really looking forward to being in the playoffs, but we're in a tough situation. It's just disappointing to put into words, really."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 0 1 1 2
    BOSTON 1 0 3 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BOS - MARCO STURM 26 (DAVID KREJCI) 16:47
    2ND PRD: TOR - JIRI TLUSTY 8 (NIK ANTROPOV, MATS SUNDIN) 4:47
    3RD PRD: BOS - PHIL KESSEL 18 (PETER SCHAEFER, SHANE HNIDY) 5:47
    BOS - (PP) GLEN MURRAY 17 (DAVID KREJCI, AARON W

    Mar 27 9:30 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    BOSTON 4
    3RD PRD: BOS - PETER SCHAEFER 9 (VLADIMIR SOBOTKA, PHIL KESSEL) 15:24

    Maple Leafs 2, Bruins 4  3rd - 4:36Mar 27 9:23 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 1
    BOSTON 3
    3RD PRD: BOS - (PP) GLEN MURRAY 17 (DAVID KREJCI, AARON WARD) 10:54

    Maple Leafs 1, Bruins 3  3rd - 9:06Mar 27 9:12 PM
  • 5
    roots
    bigsexy Added 5 roots

    Maple Leafs 1, Bruins 1  3rd - 14:35Mar 27 9:06 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 1
    BOSTON 2
    3RD PRD: BOS - PHIL KESSEL 18 (PETER SCHAEFER, SHANE HNIDY) 5:47

    Maple Leafs 1, Bruins 2  3rd - 14:13Mar 27 9:06 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 0 1 1
    BOSTON 1 0 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BOS - MARCO STURM 26 (DAVID KREJCI) 16:47
    2ND PRD: TOR - JIRI TLUSTY 8 (NIK ANTROPOV, MATS SUNDIN) 4:47
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TOR 8 18 26
    BOS 10

    Mar 27 8:35 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 1
    BOSTON 1
    2ND PRD: TOR - JIRI TLUSTY 8 (NIK ANTROPOV, MATS SUNDIN) 4:47

    Maple Leafs 1, Bruins 1  2nd - 15:13Mar 27 8:10 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 0 0
    BOSTON 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BOS - MARCO STURM 26 (DAVID KREJCI) 16:47
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TOR 8 8
    BOS 10 10
    GOALIES: TOR - VESA TOSKALA
    BOS - TIM THOMAS

    Mar 27 7:44 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 0
    BOSTON 1
    1ST PRD: BOS - MARCO STURM 26 (DAVID KREJCI) 16:47

    Maple Leafs 0, Bruins 1  1st - 3:13Mar 27 7:36 PM