TORONTO (AP) — Tyler Bozak scored the go-ahead power-play goal with less than two minutes left and the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Monday night.
The win pulled the Leafs (81 points) within one point of the Bruins (82 points) for third place in the Atlantic division.
Toronto, holding the final wild-card position in the Eastern Conference, also has a game in hand.
Morgan Rielly, William Nylander and Nazem Kadri also scored for the Leafs, who swept the season series with Boston. Frederik Andersen was sharp with 32 saves, James van Riemsdyk added two assists.
David Backes and Dominic Moore scored for the Bruins, Tuukka Rask allowed two goals on 27 shots.
A malfunctioning clock briefly delayed the start of the game and wasn’t used until the start of the third period.
Game time was announced at stoppages by the public address announcer and displayed in a corner of the videoboard — issues that were most apparent during power plays with no time counting down penalties.
The opening 20 minutes were choppy as a result of the malfunctions but also entertaining. The two teams traded chances with playoff positioning on the line.
The Bruins opened the scoring though just over seven minutes in.
Emerging Hart Trophy candidate Brad Marchand set up Backes for the goal, one he fired as two Leafs defenders — Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev — converged without effect.
Marchand earned his 80th point of the season on the play, duking it out with Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Patrick Kane, among others, for MVP as well as the Art Ross Trophy for the league’s top scorer.
Marchand was selected as the first star for last week by the NHL after getting five goals and nine points in three games. Backes, meanwhile, was questionable to even play after missing the morning skate with an illness.
There was a playoff-like vibe to the evening with intensity and scrappy play to match.
Connor Carrick, who was returning from an 11-game absence because of an injury, traded feisty blows at one point with David Pastrnak. The Bruins were perturbed a short while later when Nikita Soshnikov hit Patrice Bergeron from behind in the corner of the Boston zone.
Bergeron leaped up after the hit and grabbed Soshnikov with both players drawing minor penalties.
The Leafs gained energy as the period went on.
After nearly scoring on a pass from van Riemsdyk, Mitch Marner dished to Rielly for the game-tying goal with less than six minutes remaining in the first. Rielly’s initial attempt was stopped by Rask, but the defender’s momentum carried him and the puck (off his leg) into the goal.
It was the sixth goal of the season for Rielly and third in the past five games.
Toronto had a two-man advantage for more than a minute late in the first, but failed to score. Brian Boyle’s tip of a point shot was stopped as was Auston Matthews’ shot on a drop feed from Kadri.
Marchand’s pesky ways were apparent early in the second, the 28-year-old goading Zaitsev into a cross-checking penalty. The Russian defenseman, noticeably frustrated, first hacked Marchand’s leg after the whistle and then shoved him into the sideboards.
The Leafs nearly went ahead in the opening minutes of the third — seconds on the clock successfully ticking down on the scoreboard — Zach Hyman’s shot from in tight was stopped by Rask with Matthews unable to get his stick on a rebound. A few minutes later, Marner spun around and dished a one-time feed to van Riemsdyk, who whistled a shot wide.
Then Boston proceeded to nearly score when Andersen bobbled a shot off the rush, the Bruins circling for the rebound.
Bergeron drew the ire of the Leafs when he bumped Andersen — with help from a shove from Leo Komarov. Komarov and Bergeron traded chirps and shoves between whistles.
The Leafs got a power play with less than three minutes to go in the third when Moore was whistled for interfering with Soshnikov. A day after his 31st birthday, Bozak beat Rask from the slot for the go-ahead goal — his 17th of the season.
Nylander extended his point streak to eight games by scoring his 19th of the season into an empty net.
Bruins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
Maple Leafs: Travel to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
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