TORONTO – Michael Ryder made sure the all-star break didn’t start on a sour note for the Boston Bruins.
He scored the shootout winner on Wednesday as the Bruins overcame a two-goal deficit and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3. Ryder beat Vesa Toskala with a high wrist shot to secure the victory, the third of four Boston shooters to find the back of the net during the tiebreaker.
Blake Wheeler, Dennis Wideman, Zdeno Chara scored in regulation for the Bruins (34-8-5).
Jason Blake, Lee Stempniak, Brad May replied for Toronto (17-22-8).
It had looked like Toronto’s game. The Maple Leafs started with very little of the “performance anxiety” coach Ron Wilson says they’ve been experiencing during recent games at Air Canada Centre.
Simply scoring a goal was a good start. Blake ended the team’s drought on home ice at 141 minutes 49 seconds when he tucked the puck around Tim Thomas late in the first period, cashing in after some nice work by linemates Dominic Moore and Stempniak.
That was the 14th goal of the season for the rejuvenated winger – one short of his total during a disappointing campaign with the Leafs last season.
Even though Wheeler tied the game a shift or two after Blake’s goal, it didn’t seem to discourage the home team. The Maple Leafs displayed some speed during the second period and were rewarded with a couple goals.
Stempniak made it 2-1 at 4:13 of the second period not long after the Leafs had started a power play. He flipped the puck over a sprawled Thomas from the side of the net.
The team’s grinder line extended the advantage before the end of the frame. May was credited with his first goal as a Maple Leaf when he tipped in John Mitchell’s shot off the rush at 14:49.
That sent Toronto to the dressing room with a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes – a good sign since Boston hadn’t won when trailing after two periods all season.
However, the Bruins received four straight power plays in the third period and cashed in two goals with the man advantage. Wideman narrowed the score to 3-2 at 2:17 with a point shot that barely trickled through Toskala’s legs before Chara tied it roughly 12 minutes later.
The big defenceman skated in from the point and one-timed a beautiful pass from Marc Savard to quiet an ACC crowd that had started to anticipate an upset.
Notes: Announced attendance was 19,258 and included new Toronto FC midfielder Dwayne De Rosario … The Maple Leafs wore patches on their jerseys in honour of former player Ace Bailey … Nikolai Kulemin returned to Toronto’s lineup from an ankle injury … The Maple Leafs sent Jiri Tlusty to the AHL Marlies … Patrice Bergeron (concussion), Milan Lucic (shoulder) and Andrew Ference (leg) sat out for the Bruins … Savard has 426 points in 387 NHL games since Calgary traded him away in November 2002.