TORONTO (AP) — The Boston Bruins’ latest win could go a long way in determining whether they hold on to a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Miroslav Satan scored 3:25 into overtime and the Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Saturday night to maintain their small cushion in the tight postseason race.
“Those two points, at the end of the season, will be a big help for us,” Satan said.
Boston is seventh in the East, two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and the hard-charging New York Rangers. The Leafs, meanwhile, missed an opportunity to get within one point of Tampa Bay and Florida for 14th in the conference — a position that remains important because Boston owns Toronto’s first-round pick in this year’s draft.
Satan had both goals for Boston (36-30-12), which has scored just five times in four games.
“We were sluggish,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We had a slow start and we looked like we were skating in quicksand in the first period. But I thought we worked through it and we ended up with the win.”
Colton Orr had the lone goal for the Maple Leafs (29-36-14).
Toronto has been stuck at the bottom of the East standings for almost two months, but coach Ron Wilson doesn’t think his team is as far removed from the pack as it seems. The Maple Leafs have lost 14 of their 22 games that have been stretched past regulation time.
“That’s an indication of how close we are to becoming a more competitive team,” Wilson said. “I guess we’ve lost 14. We win half of those, and tonight’s game would have had an entirely different meaning. If we had seven more goals in those games.
“We’re a lot closer than it would appear.”
On the winning goal, Satan fooled goalie Jonas Gustavsson by tipping defenseman Zdeno Chara’s point shot with the shaft of his stick.
It was another frustrating game for Toronto’s Phil Kessel, who spent time in the dressing room during the third period with what Wilson said was a cramp. The winger failed to score in six games against his former team and finished with just one assist and a minus-5 rating while facing the Bruins this season.
Kessel declined interview requests after the game.
The Maple Leafs came out with plenty of jump in their second-to-last home game. They directed a couple quality chances at former Toronto draft pick Tuukka Rask and got the opening goal from an unlikely source.
Orr scored from the high slot at 5:10 of the first, roofing the puck after it had been blocked in front by a Bruins defenseman. It was a career-high fourth goal of the season for the Leafs’ enforcer.
“It would have been better with a win,” he said.
The turning point seemingly came during the first intermission, when the Bruins had a fairly heated discussion about how poorly they were playing. Satan tied it 8:01 into the second period.
“You can imagine what was said (in the dressing room),” Rask said. “We know when we play good and when we play bad, so we knew that that wasn’t appropriate for us.”
Boston got even when Satan was left alone at the side of the net and batted a rebound behind Gustavsson for his seventh of the season.
The Leafs goalie was busy in the middle period and made a nice save on David Krejci’s rush to keep it 1-1 heading into the third.
Rask stood tall during a third-period Toronto power play and did well to stop Dion Phaneuf’s point shot. Gustavsson denied Blake Wheeler on a rush up the wing.
Satan managed to get the puck behind Gustavsson, but it was swept to safety by Phaneuf.
NOTES: D Andrew Bodnarchuk made his NHL debut for the Bruins. … Jamie Lundmark, Wayne Primeau and Jeff Finger were healthy scratches for Toronto. … Andrew Ference, Shawn Thornton, Trent Whitfield and Mark Stuart sat out for the Bruins. … Boston D Dennis Seidenberg left the game in the first period with a cut on his left wrist and didn’t return. … Leafs rookie forward Tyler Bozak has 13 points in 13 games.