Pastrnak, Bruins give Leafs their first loss on the road
If this was a measuring stick for the Maple Leafs, they didn’t measure up.
The Leafs lost in their first game back in Boston since a Game 7 loss to the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs last spring. They got a so-so performance from Garret Sparks in a 5-1 loss at TD Garden, but didn’t support him well defensively. As a result, Boston scored twice in the second and third periods, sending the Leafs to their first road loss in seven away games this season.
Offensive stars: David Pastrnak notched a hat trick and now has an NHL-leading 15 goals, while linemate Patrice Bergeron had a goal and had a great pass to set up Pastrnak’s goal. The Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand line has scored 29 of Boston’s 48 goals. They put up a pair of power play goals, and accounted for nine points overall Saturday night.
Defensive stars: Toronto turned in an excellent first period defensively, shutting off space in the neutral zone and limiting the Bruins to just five shots (20-6 edge for Leafs in shots after one period). Toronto, though, lost that edge in the second. Their defenceman, which were stellar in the first period, allowed the Bruins’ big line far too much room to operate, and they paid a steep price for it. Boston responded in the second with a 16-10 edge in shots, but where outshot 41-34 overall.
“It’s a 60 minute game,” Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said. “It’s important to have a good start. I thought we did that, and then we really didn’t follow that up.” Turning point: Pastrnak’s powerplay goal midway through the second period put Boston up 3-0, and put the game out of reach for the Leafs.
Talking point: Mitch Marner is nothing short of amazing with the puck but has found the going tough over the past two games. He has one assist over that span — the set-up on Tavares goal Saturday night. He now has a goal and three assists in five November games so far.
Takeaways: Right now, the Leafs have yet to show they can compete with the Bruins. Toronto forced a Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs last spring, and owned the puck possession metrics in the first period Saturday (65 per cent). But Boston took over the game in the second period, beating Toronto in key puck battles. The result was a pair of second-period goals for the Bruins, who made the usually swift Leafs look slow … Sparks was playing in his first game in 26 days. He wasn’t rusty; in fact, he had some great saves, especially on a close-in chance in the second period, where Pastrnak almost had his hat trick goal.
Up next: The Leafs visit the L.A. Kings Tuesday to kick off a three-game Western road swing.
Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak makes a save as Toronto Maple Leafs' Zach Hyman looks for the rebound on Saturday in Boston.