BOSTON Three straight goals and Jonathan Bernier in net was enough for Toronto to hold a third-period lead in Boston this time.
Bernier stopped 38 shots, including 15 in the final period as the Maple Leafs held off the Bruins 4-3 on Tuesday night.
“It’s fun. It’s why we play hockey – that little pressure, that extra pressure. I thought we reacted in a good way,” Bernier said.
Bernier wasn’t part of the Toronto club that blew a late 4-2 lead and lost 5-4 in overtime to the Bruins in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series last spring. But he knew plenty of his teammates hadn’t forgotten, which made Tuesday night a bit of a special regular-season victory.
“I thought the atmosphere was awesome. I think both teams played hard, and lots of hitting in that game,” Bernier said. “When we get skating and we hit a lot, I think we get a lot of energy from our bench and we play very well.”
Tyler Bozak scored twice, Phil Kessel had three assists and James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist for Toronto. Jake Gardiner also scored for the Maple Leafs, who were 0-2 against the defending Eastern Conference champions this season.
“Hopefully, it bleeds some of the demons out of us,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said.
Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each had a goal and an assist for Boston. Gregory Campbell pulled the Bruins to 4-3 with 10:25 left in the third period, but Bernier stopped a late flurry of shots after Boston pulled goalie Tuukka Rask for the extra skater.
Toronto scored twice on the power play, while the Bruins were 0 for 3.
“We had a lot of good looks. We’ve obviously got to do a better job and bear down,” Bergeron said. “On the power play they did that and we didn’t do it, so the game’s right there.”
Bozak answered each of Boston’s first two goals, then Toronto scored two straight and Bernier continued stopping shots.
“Whenever you come to Boston you know it’s going to be tough and you know there’s going to be times in the game where they’re going to be all over you,” Bozak said. “You’ve just got to stay composed and block some shots and need the goalie to make some saves, and Berny did a great job for us tonight to keep us in it.”
Rask made 22 saves for Boston, which lost for the third time in four games. He was booed after van Riemsdyk’s wrist shot got past him early in the third, but came up with two big saves later in the period that kept the Bruins in it.
Rask made a sliding pad save on Nazem Kadri as he was being taken down by Zdeno Chara with a hook, then stopped a big shot early in the ensuing power play to keep it 4-3.
Bernier withstood a flurry of shots by the Bruins early in the second, then stopped Boston on a power play to preserve a 2-all tie until Gardiner gave Toronto its first lead with 12:51 left in the period.
The Maple Leafs were on a power play when Gardiner drifted in from the point to the right circle, where he took a cross-ice pass from Kessel and wristed a shot through Rask.
Bergeron tucked a backhand between Bernier’s left pad and the post to put the Bruins up 2-1 with 9:12 left in the first period. The goal stood after a review to make sure the puck didn’t slip under the side of the net.