The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to stretch their winning streak to five games Saturday night when they host the Boston Bruins, a long-time rival they have not played in nearly two years.
The Bruins defeated the host Maple Leafs 4-2 on Nov. 15, 2019, the last time the teams met before scheduling was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each team enters the game Saturday on a positive note as the Maple Leafs play the fourth of a five-game homestand.
The Maple Leafs are coming off a comeback 2-1 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday with John Tavares tying the game in the final minute of regulation and William Nylander shooting the winner.
The Bruins, who have won two straight, defeated the visiting Detroit Red Wings 5-1 on Thursday with Patrice Bergeron scoring his first four goals of the season and Brad Marchand adding four assists.
The Maple Leafs feel the win over the Lightning will boost their confidence.
“Anytime you’re able to fight back, face adversity all night, not have the lead and be able to tie it late, then win in extra time, find a way on the power play when you had an opportunity earlier (a five-on-three advantage) in the game and you let it slip, it’s just a great character builder,” Tavares said. “You know you found a way to get it done when you didn’t have your best.”
Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner each had two assists for Toronto.
“There’s a lot of things we can take away from what we saw from the back-to-back champions,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “That was a tough, miserable third period. They’re locking it down. They’re defending hard. Our guys remained committed right to the very end and found a way to get one point, and then we get to that overtime and anything can happen, and luckily it worked in our favor.”
Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell made important saves in the third period to keep the Lightning lead at one. His focus quickly shifted to Saturday in what should also be a stern test.
“Two great teams who’ve proven that for so long now,” Campbell said. “It feels good to get this one tonight, but blink your eyes and the puck drops on Saturday night. We have to be ready to go.”
The Bruins are also looking forward to Saturday.
“It’s always a good market, there’s always a little bit of a buzz around town,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said on Friday.
Cassidy figured it was only a matter of time before Bergeron started to score.
“He’s too good a player to keep him down for long,” Cassidy said. “That whole line, to be honest with you.”
It was Bergeron’s seventh career hat trick and the second four-goal night of his career.
“I’ve been in the league long enough to know it’s going to come back,” Bergeron said. “I think it’s about making sure you don’t force plays or think about the end result, but go back to details and put yourself in good positions, and eventually it’s going to come your way. That’s how I was approaching it.”
“You could use a game like this where guys start to feel better about themselves,” Cassidy said. “Even if it’s one game. … See if we can extend it.”
–Field Level Media