Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock thought he’d be heading to Boston with nothing to show for from the first meeting of a home-and-home series with the Bruins.
The tide turned quickly Friday night in Toronto, though, with the Maple Leafs tying the game in the final minute of regulation before Patrick Marleau scored 1:07 into overtime for a 3-2 victory against the Bruins.
"It looked like we’d get nothing and then suddenly we got two (points) so that’s positive," said Babcock.
David Pastrnak put the Bruins ahead with 5:30 to play and just one second remaining on a Boston power play, batting in a rebound while Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was sprawled out after turning away Jordan Szwarz.
Babcock pulled Andersen with 2:04 to go looking for the equalizer and with exactly one minute to play, James van Riemsdyk tied it 2-2, re-directing a Mitch Marner slap pass from the top of the crease.
Marner then started the rush on the winning goal, slowing up at the blue line while handling the puck to create some space before finding Jake Gardiner, who perfectly placed a low shot in a spot Marleau could get his stick on it for the winner.
"Both really great plays," said Marleau. "(Marner’s) coming into his own and playing really well."
Added Babcock: "Great to see Mitch be important at the end and get a couple points. If you work real hard you’re usually rewarded so good for him."
Andersen had his second straight solid start, making 33 saves en route to Toronto’s third consecutive win and fifth in a row against Boston dating back to last season.
Patrice Bergeron had the other goal for the Bruins (6-5-4) while Brad Marchand returned to the lineup after missing two games with an injury.
"The tying goal we were soft on it, I can’t sugar coat it," said Boston coach Bruce Cassidy. "If you have to ice it, that’s fine. We didn’t get it out, they made a play."
Anton Khudobin stopped 30 shots in defeat and wasn’t being faulted by his coach after giving his team a chance to take two points on the road.
"Guy’s been real good for us, seems he’s been tightening up his game," said Cassidy. "Give him credit, he was solid."
Prior to the game, the 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees were introduced at centre ice, including players Danielle Goyette, Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Mark Recchi and Dave Andreychuk, and Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs from the builders category. Clare Drake, who will be inducted as a builder, wasn’t in attendance.
Babcock had a ton of compliments for the inductees, most notably Drake, and also brought up the idea that one day his 38-year-old off-season signing should join them when the time comes.
"Marleau got his 101st game winner, he’s got to be in the Hall of Fame doesn’t he?" questioned Babcock.
It’s a quick turnaround for the two teams with Boston hosting the back end of the two-game set on Saturday. Leafs star centre Auston Matthews, who is listed day-to-day with an upper-body injury, won’t be accompanying his team on the road according to Babcock, while Curtis McElhinney is expected to get the start in net.
Toronto, which has a league-high 26 first-period goals, put 10 shots on Khudobin in the opening 20 minutes but was held off the board as the two teams went into the first intermission scoreless.
Bergeron eventually opened the scoring with 4:22 to go in the second period, connecting on a one-timer from Marchand from almost the exact same spot he was stopped from earlier in the period by Andersen.
Boston looked to be taking a 1-0 lead into the intermission, but the Leafs finally made good on a power play with 16 seconds to go in the second when van Riemdyk went to the front of the net and banged home a loose puck. Toronto was 2 for 21 with the man advantage up to that point.
"Seemed like our line had some good jump and did a good job breaking out of our own end, hopefully we can do more of that," said van Riemsdyk.