Matt Grzelcyk scored with 1:16 remaining in the third period to lift the Boston Bruins to a 4-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday.
Grzelcyk scored on a slap shot from above the left face-off circle to help the Bruins avoid consecutive losses for the first time this season. Boston lost to the Seattle Kraken 3-0 on Thursday.
“We pride ourselves in not losing two in a row, so that was the focus tonight,” Grzelcyk said. “Those great leaders over the years with [Zdeno Chara] and [Tuukka Rask] and obviously the guys who are still here, ever since I’ve been a part of the Bruins culture, it’s always been deeply rooted, so it’s something we take a lot of pride in.”
Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and A.J. Greer scored, and Linus Ullmark made 18 saves for Boston (33-5-4), which ended its four-game losing streak to Toronto in a matchup of the top two teams in the Atlantic Division.
“We’re also aware of the standings,” Bergeron said. “There are teams that are trying to catch up to us. They know it’s big points for them and big points for us, so you know it’s going to be a battle.”
Auston Matthews scored in his return after missing two games with an undisclosed injury for Toronto (26-11-7). Michael Bunting had a goal and an assist, Mitchell Marner had two assists, and Matt Murray made 30 saves.
“We can play with any team in the League,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “At the same time, you can’t beat yourself when you’re playing any team in the League, for that matter, but a team of this caliber [in Boston], you can’t give them freebies, and we did. … You have to learn these lessons sometimes the hard way, and you like to think our group is past some of these things, but clearly not.”
Matthews tied the game 3-3 at 3:17 of the third period. He roofed the puck short side after Marner forced a turnover.
“That was honestly a pretty good hockey game,” Matthews said. “Two pretty good teams, it was tight the whole way through, and obviously they get one at the end there, and that’s enough for them. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. Close game, could have probably went either way.”
Bunting gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead at 4:45 of the first. John Tavares circled behind the net and found Bunting in the slot through traffic on a power play.
Bergeron tied it 1-1 at 15:02 after Marchand settled a loose puck in the left face-off circle and set him up for an easy redirect into the open net.
“If you look at their goals, we’re kind of almost handing it to them,” Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “Other than that, I thought there were some good things, but obviously you want to limit the mistakes that lead to opportunities against.”
Pierre Engvall put Toronto ahead 2-1 at 2:43 of the second period from the high slot.
“That’s totally on me,” Ullmark said. “That’s unacceptable, especially in a tight game like this. You can’t have those sort of easy goals getting through you, so I’m not happy with that. I have to be honest with myself as well and move forward.”
Pastrnak tied it 2-2 at 5:52 on a 2-on-0 with Marchand.
Greer then gave Boston a 3-2 lead at 10:33 off a centering pass from Nick Foligno for his first goal since Oct. 18 (23 games).
“It’s always rewarding when you get kind of the go-ahead,” Greer said. “Knowing that you’ve put in the work, whether you’re in or out of the lineup, that’s always the mentality that I have. I can’t take any day for granted, and I just keep working as hard as I can.”