TORONTO — The Boston Bruins had a chance to move five points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night as teams jockey for playoff spots and seedings.
Instead, the Maple Leafs scored on a power-play goal from Tyler Bozak at 18:03 of the third period, and they went on to defeat the Bruins 4-2.
The Maple Leafs moved to within one point of the Bruins as a result.
“That hurts,” Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. “We talked before the game about doing the job and we didn’t do it.”
Bozak’s 17th goal of the season put Toronto ahead 2-1 and the Maple Leafs got empty-net goals from William Nylander and Nazem Kadri before Boston’s Dominic Moore completed the scoring in the final seconds of the game.
“It’s going to be tight the rest of the way,” Bozak said. “They’re a team we’re trying to catch and they’re trying to pull away from us. Those games are going to be tight, there’s not a lot of room. They’re going to be close games, so it’s nice that we’re finding ways to win. That was a big one for us tonight.”
Morgan Rielly also scored for the Maple Leafs (33-23-15), who swept the season series from the Bruins 4-0.
David Backes also scored for Boston (38-28-6).
Frederik Andersen stopped 32 shots in the Toronto goal, and Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask made 26 saves.
Toronto went on a power play at 17:06 of the third period when Moore went off for interference, a call that drew the ire of Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy.
“I thought we were playing a real good third,” Cassidy said. “We were eliminating chances against, strong on the puck and had some looks in their end and all of a sudden it turned.
“I thought it was an egregious call to be perfectly honest with you. … But we’ve got to get the job done on the penalty kill. It’s been good for us all year and unfortunately we needed one more.”
Bozak scored on a shot from the left faceoff circle.
“There’s not many better feelings,” Bozak said. “It was a big game that we needed and it’s nice to be able to put the one in. I think we all did a good job, every line. I didn’t think we had a good start, but I thought everyone came together and we played well in the second and third and that’s what it took.”
Bergeron said, “There were a few times the puck could have got out. But then after that you start scrambling and maybe try to do too much and that’s when things open up. Obviously, we have to do the job, but they’re a good power play and they proved it.”
Nylander scored his 19th goal of the season into the vacant goal at 18:47 and Kadri added his 29th of the season. Moore followed with his 11th of the season.
The Bruins grabbed the lead at 7:26 of the first period on the 16th goal of the season by Backes, who took a pass from Brad Marchand, turned and shot from the right faceoff circle.
“I thought they were better than us in the first 10 (minutes),” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we watched them. I thought (Auston) Matthews’ line started on time and the rest of us kind of watched.
“We gave (Boston left winger Brad) Marchand way too much room early. Then I thought we got more and more competitive as the game went on. I thought we played better and better. A real good win for our team obviously. I didn’t like to give up the last goal, but a good win for our team. It felt good.”
The teams were playing with four skaters each when the Maple Leafs tied the score on Rielly’s sixth goal of the season at 14:05 of the first period. Rielly pushed the puck home in front after the Maple Leafs buzzed around the Bruins goal.
Toronto’s Nikita Soshnikov was off for boarding and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron was penalized for roughing on the same play.
The Maple Leafs could not capitalize on a two-man advantage for 1:06 in the first period when Kevan Miller was penalized for high sticking at 15:47 and Bergeron was sent off for delay of the game at 16:40.
NOTES: Toronto D Connor Carrick (upper body injury) returned to the lineup Monday after missing the previous 11 games. … Boston RW David Backes (illness) did not take part in the morning skate and was considered a game-time decision. He scored a first-period goal. … Bruins C Noel Acciari and C Sean Kuraly were recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League. Kuraly did not dress for the game. … The game clock on the scoreboard malfunctioned for the first two periods and the time to play was announced on occasion. … The Maple Leafs visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. … The Bruins finished a four-game trip Monday and return home to play the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. The Bruins are 7-1-0 in their past eight home games.