BOSTON – The Boston Bruins nearly blew a four-goal lead. And then they turned to their closer.
Manny Fernandez – the fourth goalie to appear in the game – stopped all 13 shots he faced in the third period, and David Krejci had his first NHL hat trick as the Bruins held on to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 8-5 on Thursday night.
“Fernandez came in and made the difference in the game,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “Obviously we didn’t start the way we wanted to. It was obviously a good effort to get back into the game, but when you get down that many goals, it’s tough.”
Phil Kessel scored twice to extend his point streak to an NHL-high 16 games, and Marco Sturm, Marc Savard and Michael Ryder also scored for Boston. The Bruins won their 12th consecutive home game and their 12th in 14 games overall.
Tim Thomas stopped 18 shots but left after two periods with the Bruins leading 6-5; they had led 5-1 with just over four minutes gone in the second period.
“Sometimes a change like that kind of calms everybody down,” Fernandez said. “When there’s a lot of goals scored, you just hold your stick a little tighter, try to do too much. Sometimes coaches use that (a goalie change) as a motivator for the team, and I think that’s what happened.
Thomas fared better Vesa Toskala: he gave up two goals on five shots in the first 4:34 and was pulled for Curtis Joseph. The backup didn’t have much more luck, allowing four goals on 10 shots in the second period. Toskala came back in for the third, when Boston took a 7-5 lead on Ryder’s goal with 9:18 to play.
Krejci made it 8-5 with 4:16 left, bringing hats from the stands onto the ice. But his most impressive was his second goal, when he came flying down the left wing, made a shift and beat Joseph to the short side with a wrist shot.
“I’ve seen so many guys try it in the NHL, so I tried it,” said Krejci, who had been more of an assist guy with eight goals and 21 helpers before Thursday.
“If you give him some room, I think he can score some goals,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. He’s a good player who makes everyone around him better. Tonight he had a chance to make himself look good as well.”
Pavel Kubina, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Nik Antropov, Mikhail Grabovski and Jason Blake scored for the Leafs, who had won three in a row.
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead on the game’s opening shift when Sturm, who missed the previous 12 games after sustaining a concussion, scored off a rebound 36 seconds into the game. Sturm left with 6:23 remaining in the first when he was hit along the boards. He grabbed his left knee as he was helped off and didn’t return.
Boston made it 2-0 on Krejci’s first of the game, a power-play goal that chased Toskala. The Leafs made it 2-1 before Boston pulled away in the second with three goals in 2:53.
Notes: Kessel’s second goal gave him 100 career NHL points. … The Bruins’ last home loss came against Toronto, 4-2 on Oct. 23. … Toskala started for the 28th time in Toronto’s 31 games. … Bruins rookie Blake Wheeler also had his first career hat trick against Toronto, on Nov. 6. … Boston was 4-for-6 on the power play.