Bruins, Maple Leafs battle for first place at ACC
A battle for first place in the Northeast Division is on tap tonight in Toronto, as the Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins in an Original Six showdown at Air Canada Centre.
The Maple Leafs have won three straight games and are leading the Northeast with 30 points. Toronto, which hasn't won three straight since opening the season 3-0, last won four in a row from Jan. 6-11 of last season.
Meanwhile, Boston has an amazing 11-0-1 record over its last 12 games after beginning the year with a 3-7 mark. The defending Stanley Cup champs are currently second in the division and enter tonight just one point behind Toronto for the top spot.
The Bruins and Leafs have met twice this season and Toronto was dealt blowout losses in both encounters, losing, 6-2, in Boston on Oct. 20 and getting drilled, 7-0, on home ice on Nov. 5. The clubs have split the last six meetings overall and the B's have taken two of three and three out of five in Toronto.
Tonight's test is the opener of a home-and-home series between Boston and Toronto, but the finale in Beantown is not until Saturday.
Boston had a 10-game winning streak snapped with Friday's shootout loss to visiting Detroit, but the Bruins rebounded the following day with a 4-2 home victory over Winnipeg. Chris Kelly notched a pair of goals and Tim Thomas stopped 40 shots as Boston doubled up the Jets at TD Garden.
Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand provided the other tallies for the Bruins, while Rich Peverley added a pair of assists in the win.
"We weren't as sharp as we should have been out there tonight, especially early," said Chara. "But we were able to get the transition game going in the second and the third period was our best."
Boston has recorded at least one point in 12 straight games (11-0-1) for the first time since it went 8-0-2 with two ties from Jan. 27-Feb. 21, 2004. The last time the Bruins earned a point in 13 consecutive tests was during a 17- game unbeaten stretch from Jan. 5-Feb. 13, 1983.
Boston has also won its last four road games to improve its away record to 5-2-0 this season.
Toronto earned its third consecutive win Sunday in Anaheim, as the Leafs capped a 3-1-0 road trip with a 5-2 pasting of the Ducks.
Tyler Bozak scored twice to lead the Maple Leafs over Anaheim. Joey Crabb, Clarke MacArthur and Luke Schenn also scored for Toronto, which got 26 saves from Jonas Gustavsson.
"We try to go on the attack every single time we're on the ice," Toronto head coach Ron Wilson said. "We know what we have to do in the third period and we're getting better at it."
Joffrey Lupul recorded two assists for the Leafs and now has two goals and eight helpers during a six-game point streak. Toronto forward Tim Connolly has two goals and six assists over his five-game point streak.
Toronto is 6-3-2 on home ice this season, but has lost four of its last five at ACC.