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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bruins Finally Win Back-to-Back Games at TD Garden This Season

It only took almost a month and a half into the 2015-16 regular season but the Bruins (10-8-1) finally picked up back-to-back wins on their home ice (4-6-1). Tonight, they held off Toronto (7-10-4) 2-0 at TD Garden, on the shoulders of 22 timely saves for Tuukka Rask (2nd shutout of the season; 28th of his career) and a clutch goal by captain Zdeno Chara.

Laugh if you will but the Maple Leafs appear to be much improved under new head coach Mike Babcock, they were 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. Even though they had played a shootout in Carolina last night, they competed hard this evening and it translated to a playoff-like atmosphere.

Boston outshot Toronto 37-22 but in terms of quality scoring chances, it was much closer than that. In fact, Toronto center Shawn Matthias had a breakaway in the first period and another in the second period that were both stopped by Rask. Boston's NHL-worst penalty kill only had to kill off one penalty (and they did successfully): roughing on Brad Marchand in the first period. Likewise, the Bruins' top-ranked power-play only had one opportunity-in the third period after a high-sticking penalty on Nazem Kadri-but they couldn't convert on it.

Right wing Michael Grabner of the Maple Leafs had a shot deflect off the crossbar in the second period and birthday boy Jimmy Hayes' shot that stuffed on the goal-line by former Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick and Reimer was reviewed but remained no goal early in the third period. It looked like these teams were headed to overtime but Chara prevented that when he was given way too much time and space at 16:17 of the third. He cranked a low slap shot through traffic that went between Reimer's leg pads. Zach Trotman and Matt Beleskey assisted on Chara's third goal of the season.

Reimer was pulled for an extra attacker but the Maple Leafs couldn't find the tying goal. Marchand clinched it with an empty-netter at 19:53 from Loui Eriksson (4-game point streak) and Patrice Bergeron (7-game point streak). Rask has to love seeing the Maple Leafs since tonight's victory improved his all-time record vs. Toronto to 12-3-1.

These same clubs meet again on Monday (7:30, NESN) in Toronto. Boston then travels to Detroit (10-8-2) on Wednesday (7:30, NESN), the night before Thanksgiving. Their next home game is on Black Friday afternoon against the Rangers (15-3-2)-arguably the best team in the league at this moment.

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