The Bruins figured they’d see scoring chances against the Toronto Maple Leafs and their 25-year-old playoff rookie goaltender James Reimer in the opener of a best-of-seven series. The question on everyone’s mind after so many sluggish offensive stretches this season was obvious: Would Boston convert enough of those chances?
The answer in Game 1 was a resounding yes.
Wade Redden, Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Johnny Boychuk all scored in the first two periods as the Bruins overcame an early Maple Leafs goal to record a dominating 4-1 victory and calmed the nerves of their uneasy supporters Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Tuukka Rask made 19 saves in a rather comfortable night in net as Boston kept the bulk of the action on one side of the ice.
There was also some uncertainty as to how much juice the B’s would have. They looked flat at times down the stretch. Adam McQuaid, Danielle Paille and Dennis Seidenberg were among many who delivered rattling hits and it seemed as if the Black and Gold were there on every 50-50. The one-sided affair become more so as things dragged on, as Boston held a 14-6 shots advantage in the third period --completing a 40-20 showing -- in their first display of relentless hockey in some time.
Seconds after James van Riemsdyk put Toronto up with an early power-play goal, McQuaid delivered a crushing blow on Jay McClement at mid-ice. From that point on, the crowd was amped and the Bruins had a distinct edge in energy.
Redden, playing in just his seventh game since joining the B’s, become an unlikely catalyst by sneaking a slapper past Reimer with 3:40 left in the first. Horton’s tally came in the waning seconds of the opening stanza and Krejci allowed Boston to seize complete control with his 21st career playoff goal midway through the second. Boychuk’s blast minutes later had Reimer and the Leafs reeling.
Colton Orr’s ill-advised retaliation on a clean Boychuk check early in the third and then a game misconduct after a cross-check with minutes left were definitive signs of frustration on Toronto’s part.
The Bruins seemed to respond very well to a rare two-day break since the end of the regular season. They get another such break before hosting the Leafs in Game 2 on Saturday. Expect those at TD Garden to be quite energized. After the performance by the good guys on Wednesday night, they may finally be confident.