TORONTO (AP) -- The Boston Bruins seem to be gearing up for a
long playoff run.
After holding a comfortable lead in the Eastern Conference for
most of the season, the Bruins can finally see the start of the
postseason coming into view.
A 7-5 victory over the Toronto on Saturday night left Boston
with just eight games remaining in the regular season. Coach
Claude Julien believes each of them is important even though his
team seems destined to wrap up the No. 1 seed a little early.
"We've got our own issues," Julien said. "Just because we're in
a playoff spot doesn't mean that everything's OK. Our play in
the last month and a half hasn't been up to par. We need to get
better in our game.
"So those games do mean something for us. It's about fine-tuning
ourselves and getting some momentum heading into the playoffs."
He was happy with everything but the team's defensive play
against the Maple Leafs.
One possible explanation for the lapses was the fact that Boston
hadn't played in five days. The stretch of inactivity was even
longer for backup goalie Manny Fernandez, who got his first
start since March 8.
It wasn't an excuse many Bruins went for. Fernandez, for one,
didn't think the break should be a reason for the team to
"You want to take that positively," Fernandez said. "Playoffs
are around the corner. I think at that point it would be a good
time to have maybe five days off and maybe rest a little bit.
We've been hoping to turn things around and that's the direction
we're trying to take."
Mark Recchi scored two goals, Dennis Wideman and Matt Hunwick
each added three assists, and Chuck Kobasew, Michael Ryder,
Shawn Thornton, David Krejci and Blake Wheeler also scored for
Boston. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice for Toronto, and
Nikolai Kulemin, John Mitchell and Niklas Hagman added goals.
"It's a tough loss, giving up seven goals is never fun," Hagman
said. "We made it tough on our goalies. As a team, we need to
Rookie Justin Pogge was chased from the Toronto goal in the
second period after allowing six goals on 20 shots. He's 1-4-1
in six NHL starts.
"The bounces just weren't going my way," Pogge said. "I've got
to make myself bigger in there."
Ponikarovsky put the Maple Leafs ahead 4-3 when he scored his
second goal of the night at 6:06 of the second period. That was
his third point of the evening and hi 14th in the last seven
Boston roared ahead by scoring three goals in a 3:43 span.
Recchi tied it with his second power-play goal on a tip-in at
9:01, and Thornton put the Bruins ahead for good at 11:30. His
long shot through traffic seemed to fool Pogge.
"Everyone pays $450 bucks a ticket, so they got their money's
worth anyways," said Thornton, from Toronto. "I only know that
because I had to buy them for my parents."
Leafs coach Ron Wilson called a timeout at that point to try and
settle his team, but Krejci made it 6-4 on a breakaway at 12:44.
Curtis Joseph was sent in to relieve Pogge - the reverse of what
happened during a 5-3 loss in Buffalo on Friday night - but the
game was put out of reach when Wheeler scored at 17:04.
In the third period, Hagman scored his 20th goal of the season -
and the 100th of his career -- with a high wrist shot at 14:39.
That was a welcome sight in his first game since sustaining a
concussion February 26.