Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 14: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Brad Marchand #63 after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at TD Garden on January 14, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

From Todd Angilly setting the mood with a two-anthem intro to “Dirty Water” serving as the closing credits of Saturday’s showdown between the Bruins and Maple Leafs, everything about this latest epic between the two top teams in the Eastern Conference felt bigger than your regular January 14th contest.

But then again, that is Bruins vs. Maple Leafs.

“I like how we all stuck together out there,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said following his team’s 4-3 win. “There’s guys on their team that certain guys on our team don’t like and I’m sure it’s the same way for them.”

“I haven’t played in the playoffs in the NHL, but I can definitely feel it through the building [and] on the bench,” Bruins forward A.J. Greer said. “They pushed hard in the third, but we’re such a talented team and we have such a tight group, that we’re never out of it. We have a resilient group, and we have a tight group, and it was a great win.

“It’s Bruins hockey. It’s electric.”

(Print the shirts, to be honest.)

This one featured a little bit of everything, too. You had a great, heavyweight fight between Nick Foligno and Wayne Simmonds, Matt Murray and Linus Ullmark both came through with Save of the Year candidate stops, and Michael Bunting even tried kicking a guy. Just a ridiculously fun night at the Garden, and with two more points banked away by the Bruins, bringing their lead over the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division up to 11 points, and with two games in hand.

Oh, and the Bruins improved to 9-0-0 following a loss this season.

“I think the game meant more to us than I imagined before the game,” Montgomery admitted. “I think that was my biggest takeaway. And I’m glad it did. We’re proud of not having lost two in a row, and there was a purpose to what we were doing. Not only because it was the second-place team in Toronto that we were playing, but we don’t want to lose two in a row. Because you get into a playoff [series], you lose two in a row, you’re in a bit of a hole.”

Here are the 98.5 The Sports Hub (dot com) 3 Stars of the game from a big win over the Maple Leafs

  • No. 3 Star: Matt Grzelcyk

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 14: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Nick Foligno #17 and Taylor Hall #71 after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at TD Garden on January 14, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Maple Leafs 4-3. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 14: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Nick Foligno #17 and Taylor Hall #71 after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • “If you’re going to score your first goal in 33 games, do it in style, baby.” – Matt Grzelcyk (probably.)

    Deadlocked in a 3-3 game with less than a minute and a half to play, it was the 5-foot-9 Grzelcyk who rifled the game-winning goal through Matt Murray to seal the deal on Boston’s first win over Toronto since Nov. 2019. It was a simple, no frills kind of goal from No. 48, too, with Grzelcyk wasting absolutely no time looking for a ‘better’ angle and instead just hammering it on home towards Murray’s cage.

  • “Grzzy’s best game of the year,” Montgomery said following the victory. “He was unreal defensively and offensively. And I’m glad he got rewarded because he’s been really good here ever since we went on the West Coast trip. He’s been picking up his offensive side and his defensive gaps, and he’s getting rewarded.

    “He’s having the puck a lot more, which is good for us.”

    Fun fact: Four of Grzelcyk’s last six goals dating back to last year have been game-winning goals.

  • No. 2 Star: Auston Matthews

    Jan 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) is congratulated at the bench after scoring against the Boston Bruins during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) is congratulated at the bench after scoring against the Boston Bruins during the third period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Toronto superstar Auston Matthews can make it look way too easy out there.

    His game-tying goal in the third period of Saturday’s contest was a perfect example of that, too, as he appeared to make time stand still on the way to a top-shelf marker through Linus Ullmark.

    Sheesh.

    In addition to the goal, Matthews was on the ice for what was an 11-7 shot advantage for the Leafs during five-on-five play. On a night where they were outshot 30-18 at five-on-five, that’s one hell of a showing.

  • No. 1 Star: Patrice Bergeron

    Jan 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) deflects a pass past Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray (30) for a goal during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) deflects a pass past Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray (30) for a goal during the first period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

  • If there’s a team that can’t wait to see Patrice Bergeron hang ’em up, it’s the Maple Leafs. I mean, the man straight-up terrorizes the organization, and has shown no signs of slowing down.

    On the board with the first-period equalizer, Bergeron finished Saturday’s contest with one goal, three shots, one hit, and a team-leading four blocks in 20:06 of time on ice. Bergeron also won 72 percent of his battles at the dot with wins in 18 of his 25 faceoffs. I mean, my goodness, that’s just machine-like stuff.

  • The 37-year-old Bergeron also hit an ‘against Toronto’ milestone of sorts, too.

    With that goal being Bergeron’s 25th regular-season goal against Toronto, the tally broke him out of a tie with Evgeni Malkin and Eric Staal for the fourth-most goals against the Leafs since the start of the 2003-04 season. Only Daniel Alfredsson (28), Sidney Crosby (29), and Alex Ovechkin (41) have scored more over that span.

    It was also his 67th point against Toronto, which broke him out of tie with Crosby and into sole possession of third-most against the Leafs since 2003-04, with only Malkin (68) and Ovechkin (74) ahead of Bergeron there.

    No slowin’ this guy down. Especially not against Toronto.