The Toronto Maple Leafs can have their John Tavares. The Bruins have Sean Kuraly.
Matched up for the fourth (and somehow final) time on Saturday night in Toronto, it was the energetic Kuraly that factored in on all three B’s goals with a goal and two assists, giving the Bruins enough lift for a survivalist 3-2 win on enemy ice.
“He’s becoming a legend here,” Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s postgame show.
The Bruins first jumped on the board by way of a Krejci tally struck at the 18:21 mark of the first period.
But the Maple Leafs answered with two goals scored within a 1:53 in the second period.
The first came from Andreas Johansson, though was simply the result of some horrendous bobbling from Kevan Miller and Rask, and squeaked under and through Rask for Toronto’s first goal. What made that goal hurt even worse than your normal squeaker, though, was the fact that Rask was downright phenomenal in the moments before, which featured the Bruins by all means trying to a score a goal on their own net with a horrendous power-play opportunity that gave Toronto more scoring chances than the B’s. But the second strike did not come with similar vibes, as it was an absolute laser off the stick of Mitch Marner that Rask probably still would not have been able to stop had Marner told him where he was shooting it beforehand.
The Bruins, not exactly known for their third-period comebacks this season, made sure their response came before the close of the second period, with goals from Kuraly and David Pastrnak countered within a 4:58 span to finish the period.
From there, the Bruins buckled down, playing the final seven minutes of the third period without a whistle, and hanging on for dear life behind big stops from Rask, and none bigger than his late-game stop on a William Nylander net-front look.
The 30-of-32 performance from Rask was enough for the 31-year-old’s fifth straight win dating back to Dec. 29, which has come with an absurd .955 save percentage over that span.
But the talk of this one undoubtedly comes back to the play of Kuraly in a career-best three-point effort.
The man was simply a menace for the Black and Gold, jumping on Toronto’s lazy d-zone coverage throughout the night, and playing a jacked-up game that led to countless chances for his linemates and extended zone time in the Toronto end.
The victory also gave the Bruins a season series victory over the Maple Leafs, winning three of their four head-to-heads this year, though the Leafs aren’t overly concerned with that should these teams meet again in the postseason.
“Of course, we’re always looking forward to playing these guys,” Leafs forward Nazem Kadri said. “They’re a great hockey team. They’re well coached, tons of credit goes to them. We’re a good team too, and tonight I felt like we did play good enough to get a win but just didn’t get the result.”
The Bruins return home for a Monday night meeting against the Canadiens.