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Auston Matthews scored his 49th league-leading goal and provided an assist when the Toronto Maple Leafs ended Boston’s four-game streak with a 6-4 win on Tuesday night.
Matthews’ goal at the end of the second period was the fourth of five consecutively scored by the Maple Leafs, who had a 6-1 lead and sent the Bruins in a series of retaliatory shots and penalties.
“I just thought we didn’t give him much,” said Toronto manager Sheldon Keefe. “We managed a couple of the strong pushes they had, but otherwise it was a real patient game and we took advantage of the opportunities we had.”
Colin Blackwell scored his first goal since joining Toronto in an exchange on deadline. Morgan Rielly, Alexander Kerfoot and Mitchell Marner each had a goal and an assist.
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John Tavares added two assists and Erik Kallgren made 23 saves after entering the first period, replacing Petr Mrazek, who came out with a groin injury. The Leafs also lost a couple of defenders to injuries, but they had more than enough attack before the Bruins cut the edge.
“I didn’t think he was overly lively, to be honest with you. There were no fights or anything like that,” Rielly said. “Overall, the team did a good job staying focused on the outcome of the match. We protected each other when we had to, but I don’t think it was out of control in any way.”
David Pastrnak scored his 38th goal for Boston. Jake DeBrusk, Curtis Lazar and Taylor Hall also scored for the Bruins, who couldn’t keep up with the fast Maple Leafs.
Jeremy Swayman scored six goals from 25 shots before being replaced by Linus Ullmark early in the third period.
The game was tight early when Blackwell and Pastrnak scored less than a minute apart. But the 1-1 lasted only a few minutes before Rielly scored and the Leafs opened the match and won for the third time in four games since the trade deadline.
Boston manager Bruce Cassidy said the Bruins weren’t brilliant at first and seemed unprepared for Matthews and the quick Leafs.
“If all of these things don’t happen, then you need your keeper to save you and that didn’t happen either,” Cassidy said. “Give them credit for starting on time and this is where the game escaped us and we chased it: a difficult team to chase the match against.”
Kerfoot scored on the break with 1:16 left in the first period, and the Leafs added three more goals in the second before DeBrusk’s goal put the lead at 6-2 at the end of the frame.
The Bruins ‘frustrations had already exploded, increasing the Leafs’ lead after Taylor Hall knocked Toronto defender Lya Lyubushkin out of the game, responding for what Hall felt was a blow from behind.
The violent penalty resulted in Matthews’ goal with four minutes remaining in the second and David Kampf scored again for the Leafs just 47 seconds later. Kerfoot received an assist on goal and was leveled by Connor Clifton well after the game as he skated to celebrate with his teammates.
The Bruins made it interesting when Hall scored with 2:22 remaining on a goal that was initially disallowed until replays confirmed that the puck crossed Kallgren’s bearings.
“It looks a bit blurry,” Boston defender Charlie McAvoy said. “We’ll go back and take a look, but you can’t give a team such opportunities. They have a lot of skills and they can capitalize on. Self-inflicted things are where you have to limit them.”
FIRST AT 50?
Matthews entered the game tied with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl for the NHL lead with 48 goals. Now only one step away from hitting the 50-goal milestone, Keefe said he expects Matthews to stay low and not be distracted from the scoring race as the playoffs approach.
“He’s right there, of course. If I know Auston, he’ll keep playing and not focus too much on anything else. He’s too good for the chances and goals not to keep coming,” Keefe said.
NOTES: The Leafs said Mrazek left the game with a groin injury, which could keep him out for a while as their top goalkeeper Jack Campbell continues to recover from a rib injury that kept him out for several weeks. . … Blackwell was playing in his fourth game since the Leafs acquired him and D Mark Giordano from the Kraken expansion in exchange for three draft picks. … Toronto D Justin Holl did not return after a shot from Derek Forbort hit him in the helmet in front of the Leafs net. … Brad Marchand of Boston received a 10 minute misconduct penalty after the second period.
Maple Leafs: hosts Winnipeg on Thursday night.
Bruins: hosts New Jersey on Thursday night.