For the first time in over a month, the Bruins are on a losing streak. They rallied from a 3-1 third period deficit vs. Toronto on Thursday at Air Canada Centre but ultimately fell, 4-3, in overtime on Nazem Kadri’s game-winner (a power play goal after a questionable holding call on Torey Krug).
Toronto (38-32-8) is still two points behind Detroit and three points behind Columbus for the wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. Boston (52-18-7) could have clinched the top seed with a win and loss by Pittsburgh but it got neither result as the Penguins won, 4-2, in Winnipeg.
In the second night of a back-to-back after a 3-2 loss in Detroit on Wednesday, the Bruins fell behind six minutes into the first period. Paul Ranger put a loose puck by Chad Johnson (27 saves) with a backhander after Matt Bartkowski lost it in his feet. Boston responded less than a minute later as Brad Marchand benefited from an awful turnover that went right to him in front of Jonathan Bernier (25 saves). The Leafs went back ahead on a bizarre goal: Phil Kessel banked it in off Tyler Bozak’s body with only 12 seconds left in the frame.
Toronto kept the momentum going as UNH product James van Riemsdyk scored 52 seconds into the second after a sloppy turnover by Dougie Hamilton behind Boston’s net. Toronto and their fans must have been having flashbacks to Game 7 of the first round last season as Milan Lucic cut it to 3-2 with a one-timer then Patrice Bergeron tied it on a one-timer of his own. Sound familiar? Making it even more ironic, Bernier went down with an injury so James Reimer was summoned shortly before Bergeron’s tally.
The Bruins can’t complain too much about Krug’s shaky penalty since they received a similar gift-holding on Nikolai Kulemin with 1:14 left in regulation. They couldn’t take advantage though and went to overtime after outshooting Toronto 17-5. The Maple Leafs outshot the Bruins 5-1 in the extra session and Kadri’s goal came on a rebound when he was completely unmarked in front of Johnson.
After four games on the road, Boston returns to TD Garden on Saturday (1, NESN) to face the Flyers (39-28-9).
What they'll be saying: The Bruins have to hope that Marchand and Lucic broke out of their goal-scoring slumps. Marchand’s goal was his first since March 18 and only his fourth in the 20 games since the Olympics break. Lucic’s goal was his first in 10 games.
Alert the "Behind the B" camera crew, Dougie Hamilton is due for some serious repairs (stitches) after the high stick he took by Phil Kessel on his cheek. Jarome Iginla was back in the lineup, proving that his “lower body injury” was not that serious after all. Andrej Meszaros was a healthy scratch along with Corey Potter while Carl Soderberg was back in Boston with his wife who is about to give birth. Jordan Caron played his second game in a row and Chris Kelly shifted to center on the third line, his old position.
These teams finished 2-2 this season and should Toronto sneak into the playoffs, odds are that they would be the eighth seed. That would result in a rematch of last spring’s unforgettable seven game series between the Original Six rivals. Thursday notwithstanding, the Bruins match up better with them than Montreal or Detroit.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate