TORONTO - Nazem Kadri scored a power-play goal 2:51 into overtime to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory against the Boston Bruins at Air Canada Centre on Thursday.
Kadri's 19th goal of the season came on a rebound of a Cody Franson shot from the point. He beat Bruins goalie Chad Johnson to give the Maple Leafs their second consecutive victory.
"That was unbelievable," Kadri said. "It's probably one of the bigger goals of the year that we've scored. I mean, we needed it. That was a good Boston team that is relentless, and we knew that coming in that we weren't safe with a one- or two-goal lead, that we had to keep fighting till the end, and that's exactly what happened."
The victory prevented the Maple Leafs from losing a game in which they held a 3-1 lead going into the third period and lost starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier with a lower-body injury. It also kept their hopes of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs alive; Toronto (38-32-8) remained one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets and two behind the Detroit Red Wings, who hold the two Eastern Conference wild-card positions.
"We're just focused on winning games," Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "We talked about it this morning about the team that we're playing, we're very familiar with and there's obviously that rivalry, but I thought tonight I thought we showed a lot of resiliency to come back and win that game in overtime."
The Maple Leafs have played two more games than the Blue Jackets and Red Wings; a loss to the bruins might have effectively ended their playoff hopes.
"We're alive, but there's a lot of things that have to go our way," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "Make sure that we don't get too far ahead of ourselves. We've only won two games here."
Bernier left at 8:22 after Toronto defenseman Paul Ranger pushed Boston forward Patrice Bergeron into him. He was replaced by James Reimer.
"When you see a teammate go off accompanied by the training staff, it's not good," Phaneuf said. "You feel for him. He's done so much for our team and he's such a big part of our team. It's a big loss. I don't know the severity of it, I'm not going to comment on that, but when we lose him to injury there it was definitely a blow to our team but Reims came in and did a great job for us."
Carlyle said Bernier will have an MRI on Friday.
Bergeron tied the game at 12:51 with his 28th goal of the season. Brad Marchand circled behind the net and found Bergeron alone in the slot for a wrist shot past Reimer.
"It's adversity that we're going to face in the playoffs," Bergeron said. "We've got to make sure that we realize that. We talked about that during the intermission there, that we had to keep pushing. We found a way. We got those two goals that we needed - we've got to find a way to get that extra point, especially on our 4-on-3. We've got to execute better and make the plays."
The Maple Leafs held on after Bergeron's goal despite being outshot 17-5 in the third period.
"I tell them to breathe. That's been our catch phrase now," Carlyle said. "Because you can't do anything if you don't breathe and that's what's happened to our hockey club is when we're freezing, we're just paralyzed. … You can't do anything tense. You can't be all tensed up to play the game. And Boston, they really started to pinch the walls and the last half of the second period they really came down the walls and came hard."
The game got more stressful for Toronto when Nikolai Kulemin took a penalty for holding with 1:14 left in regulation.
"I didn't even realize it was a power play until just before the whistle," Reimer said. "I looked up and saw we were down a man. You're thrown into the fire. You're getting shots right away. It helps you get into the game. It was crazy how it turned out. It's tough to come in, but we found away in the third to grind out a win."
The penalty carried into overtime and the Maple Leafs killed it off. Reimer finished with 10 saves.
"I'm just focusing on playing the best I can for my teammates and try to grind out a win," Reimer said. "Those are thoughts that kind of go through your mind, but you can't be thinking about that when you've got [Zdeno] Chara standing in front of you."
Tyler Bozak drew a holding penalty against Bruins defenseman Torey Krug at 1:52 of overtime to set up Kadri's game-winning goal, a call the Bruins weren't pleased with.
"The criteria is if you hit the puck first, it's not a penalty," Lucic said. "We thought [Krug] did a pretty good job of that. But we can't control the calls that the refs make. They miss a high stick that cuts open [Dougie Hamilton] with, what was it, two and a half minutes left. We get that call, the game probably ends in our favor.
"All season long we never try to make the refereeing an excuse and we're not going to do that here tonight."
Kadri's second game-winning goal of the season handed the Bruins their second loss in as many nights. They lost 3-2 to the Wings in Detroit on Wednesday.
"I think we can learn from this, for sure, realize that if we just play our game like we did in the third we can just dominate, dominate teams especially teams like the Maple Leafs," Johnson said. "It's just disappointing we didn't get the two points."
Ranger opened the scoring 6:00 into the first period with his fifth goal of the season when he chopped a pass by Jerry D'Amigo past Johnson. D'Amigo was in the lineup because Joffrey Lupul missed the game with a lower-body injury.
Marchand tied the game 56 seconds later when he intercepted a pass by Franson, skated in and put a wrist shot past Bernier for his 23rd goal of the season.
The Maple Leafs made it 2-1 with 12 seconds left in the period. Bozak was credited with a goal when Phil Kessel's shot went wide but bounced off his chest and into the net.
"I'll take it, obviously. I'll take those all year if I can get them," Bozak said of his 18th goal of the season. "I just tried to go to the net and [Kessel] just threw it over and lucky enough it hit my chest and went in. They don't ask how, I guess, they ask how many."
James van Riemsdyk gave the Maple Leafs a 3-1 lead 52 seconds into the second period. He took a pass from Kessel in front of the net and slipped the puck underneath Johnson for his career-high 30th goal of the season.
"It's a nice milestone," van Riemsdyk said. "Those two guys get in on the forecheck pretty hard, turned the puck over, got it out to me in front and I kind of surprised the goalie I think."