April 22nd, 2024

Zacha scores twice, Bruins down Leafs 4-1 in potential playoff preview

By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press on March 4, 2024.

Boston Bruins centre Morgan Geekie (39) scores over Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll (60) during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Monday, March 4, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Pavel Zacha had two goals to snap a long drought as the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Monday night.

Jake DeBrusk, with a goal and an assist, and Morgan Geekie also scored for Boston (36-13-14). David Pastrnak had three assists.

Jeremy Swayman made 32 saves for the Bruins, who now sit eight points clear of the Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division.

John Tavares replied for Toronto (35-18-8) in the preview of a potential first-round playoff matchup. Joseph Woll stopped 26 shots.

The teams play again Thursday in Boston.

The Bruins – 3-3-5 over their last 11 with just one regulation victory heading into Scotiabank Arena – opened the scoring at 9:43 of the first period off a dominant start that included a couple of great short-handed chances on an earlier penalty kill when Geekie redirected a Pastrnak pass for his 14th goal of the season.

Denied by Woll on an breakaway 14 seconds into the game, Zacha made it 2-0 at 12:42 with the Bruins on a power play when he snapped his 13th, and first in 12 contests, from the slot thanks to another Pastrnak setup as Boston led 11-2 on the shot clock.

Embarrassed 5-1 by the New York Islanders on Saturday, the visitors went up by three at 5:07 of the second when DeBrusk, who had an assist on Zacha’s goal for his first point in six games, snapped the winger’s 14th off the rush after Swayman denied Bobby McMann at the other end.

Auston Matthews came agonizingly close to adding to his NHL-best 53 goals on a Toronto man advantage late in the period, but his effort was cleared off the line by Boston defenceman Brandon Carlo.

Matthews remains one point shy of joining Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald and Mats Sundin as the fourth Leafs player with four or more 80-point seasons.

The Leafs, who have two games in hand on the Bruins, got one back at 3:52 of the third when Tavares ripped his 19th upstairs on Swayman. Morgan Rielly picked up an assist to pass Tim Horton for fourth on the franchise’s all-time list for points by a defenceman.

But Zacha scored his second of the night and 14th of the campaign at 10:34 from in tight to make it 4-1 after Pastrnak threw the puck in front.


Toronto defenceman Ilya Lyubushkin dressed after taking a big hit from New York Rangers rookie Matt Rempe in the second period of Saturday’s 4-3 shootout victory.


The Bruins were without shutdown defenceman Hampus Lindholm for a seventh straight game with an undisclosed injury.


Leafs tough guy Ryan Reaves spoke to the media Monday morning for the first time since fighting the six-foot-seven Rempe on Saturday. The combatants also had a lively conversation in the penalty box following their spirited third-period tilt.

“Really nice kid,” said the 37-year-old Reaves. “He talked about how the media pumped it up so much and he’s like, ‘Two Original Six teams going at it and all everybody was talking about was a fight.’

“It shows that fighting’s not dead in this sport. People still get amped up for it.”


Boston is home to Edmonton on Tuesday.

Toronto hosts Buffalo on Wednesday before Thursday’s rematch with the Bruins at TD Garden.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2024.

Follow @JClipperton_CP on X.

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