TORONTO – Kevan Miller's first career NHL goal at 15:58 of the second period proved to be the game-winner and led the Boston Bruins to a 5-2 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Sunday night.
Miller's slap shot from the blue line beat Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier cleanly. The goal came in just his fourth career game.
"Very happy that old guy finally scored," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said jokingly. "It was great. You see the excitement on his face. I remember when I scored my first goal and it's just such a great feeling. Anytime you can help contribute to a team win it's a lot of fun."
"He's been pretty solid,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Miller. "He's been that from the beginning. I've said that from the beginning. He's been thrown into the fire. ... I'm happy with how he's handled the whole situation."
An injury forced Miller out of the game with 2:21 left in the third period, when he was hit from behind into the boards by Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. No penalty was called on the play. Julien said the injury shouldn't impact him playing in their next game.
The Maple Leafs got on the scoreboard first at 12:20 of the first period, when center Peter Holland scored on a rebound of a Jake Gardiner shot. Gardiner's initial shot went off of Bruins goalie Chad Johnson and to the far post, where Holland collected it and put it in the back of the net for his third goal of the season.
The Bruins tied the game at 5:14 of the second period on the power play, when Carl Soderberg scored his fourth goal of the season. Soderberg was alone in front of the net and Reilly Smith connected on a pass from the faceoff circle, where Soderberg one-timed it past Bernier.
"[The Maple Leafs] did a good job of throwing pucks to the net and crashing the crease and that's something we talked about between periods and we wanted to do," Krug said. "The first power play goal is a result of that. Carl made a great finish in front after two great passes, so those were very important goals for us."
The Bruins took the lead for good when Krug scored on the power play at 6:47 of the second. It was Krug's eighth goal of the season.
The Maple Leafs' troubles on the penalty kill have mounted in the past eight games. They've given up at least one goal while down a man in each game and have allowed a total of 13 power-play goals in that span.
"I thought we did a pretty good job other than the two clears that cost us," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "The one [Phaneuf] tried to go up the middle with it versus up the wall, pressure situation, and they kept it in. The other was Mason Raymond. We had clear possession of the puck and he tried to go up the wall and they cut it off. Those two specifically came back to haunt us."
Miller's goal late in the second made it 3-1, but the Maple Leafs were able to cut the deficit in half in the third, when Jay McClement scored his first goal of the season 37 seconds into the period. McClement scored on a rebound of his initial shot to beat Johnson.
Jarome Iginla added to the lead with his sixth goal of the season with 4:00 left in the third to make it 4-2. The goal was reviewed to see if it was kicked in, but replay confirmed it was a good goal.
"I think that really we put the puck in the net," Carlyle said of Iginla's goal. "I think [Phaneuf] stopped the puck from going across the line and when he went to clear it he threw it off the back of Bernier. Definitely Iginla did direct the puck; the puck was directed by his skate. It went through and we had it on the goal line in desperation just trying to get it out of there."
Patrice Bergeron added an empty-net goal with 11 seconds to play. Johnson made 30 saves for Boston; Bernier had 35 for the Maple Leafs.
"I think it's my fifth game right now and I definitely feeling more comfortable the more games I'm playing here," Johnson said. "I think getting in a couple more games within a week's period time or a couple weeks is nice, and tonight I felt really good."
The Bruins lost defenseman Dougie Hamilton in the first period due to a lower-body injury.
"He's going to fly back home [Monday] and he'll be evaluated by our doctors," Julien said. "Right now it doesn't seem like he's going to be playing with us for this coming week. It doesn't look good for as far as the original diagnosis. He's probably done for at least a week."
The Bruins' four-game road trip continues on Tuesday against the Calgary Flames. The Maple Leafs host the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.
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