BOSTON -- It was just one game, and there tends to be over-reaction when it comes to such lopsided playoff outcomes, but it’s hard to picture the Bruins playing much better than they did in a 4-1 victory Wednesday over the Maple Leafs in Game 1 at TD Garden.
Boston slogged through a rough final month and a half of the regular season, which cost them the Northeast Division and No. 2 seed in the East, but you wouldn’t know it by the way they performed with the bright lights of the postseason fixed on them.
“We’ve been playing better lately,” noted Bruins head coach Claude Julien, “so we want to be rewarded. We felt crisp and ready, we played a solid game.”
They looked like the confident Stanley Cup champion from two years ago while Toronto (in its first playoff game in nine years) appeared to be in way over their heads.
The Maple Leafs actually scored first, James van Riemsdyk’s power-play goal on a tap in 1:54 into the contest could have been deflating for the B’s. Instead, they rallied for two goals later in the first period then added another pair in the second for one of their best all-around games of the season.
“It’s good to get the first win under our belts,” said Bruins center Gregory Campbell. “We feel like we’ve got something to prove (after getting bounced in the first round by Washington last season). We haven’t been playing our game for a while, it’s a different brand of hockey in the playoffs: faster and more physical. That’s the type of game that we thrive in.”
The Bruins are at their best when all their players are contributing in one way or another. Four different guys scored goals for Boston while David Krejci (1 goal, 2 assists), Milan Lucic (2 assists) and Wade Redden (1 goal, 1 assist) all had multiple points. Redden tied it with a shot that trickled past James Reimer (36 saves) then he assisted on Horton’s tip in with 11 seconds left in the first which completely shifted the momentum for Boston.
After Krejci’s turnaround goal midway through the second and a bomb from Johnny Boychuk, the rout was on. The B’s are experienced enough to know that the Maple Leafs will definitely come out playing like a different team on Saturday (7 p.m., NESN) for Game 2.
“We look at it as a new season,” admitted Krejci. “We have to regroup, we know there is a long way to go.”
Tuukka Rask (19 saves) wasn’t called on much as Boston outshot Toronto 40-20 and easily could have won by four or five goals since Tyler Seguin hit the crossbar and Lucic missed a rebound from a few feet away.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate