BOSTON -- The shootout has not been the Boston Bruins' friend this season.
But at the most crucial point of their season, and with the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators also winning Saturday, the Bruins found a way to pull one out.
Patrice Bergeron scored in regulation and had the only goal in the shootout to give the Bruins a 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
Boston (41-25-13) is tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with Detroit, which has played one fewer game. The Bruins, who have won five in a row, and Red Wings lead the Senators by three points; the teams are also competing for a wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Bergeron beat Toronto goaltender James Reimer by dragging the puck from his backhand to his forehand in the third round of the shootout. Boston is 4-9 in shootouts.
"It's a big win, you know a big effort coming back in a character win in Detroit [on Thursday], and coming back here at home, the last home game, you know we definitely wanted to win it," Bergeron said. "And it's big points for us this time of year, and we got the extra point that we wanted. So you know there's definitely some things that we can learn from and be better, but that being said, we got the result."
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 27 saves through overtime, and then stopped three Maple Leafs in the shootout, including forward Nazem Kadri to seal the victory.
The Bruins have allowed 11 goals in their past six games.
"When [Rask] is our best player, then you know we have a good chance at winning a hockey game," Boston defenseman Torey Krug said. "He's seeing the puck right now, and it's good. Guys are also committed to defense as well. It's a combination of those two things, and we're not going to give up many goals, and that's what it takes to win hockey games right now. That's how the Boston Bruins win hockey games, by not giving up more than a couple of goals."
Reimer made 49 saves for Toronto (29-43-7), which has lost seven road games in a row. He made 19 saves in the first period and helped the Maple Leafs kill two power plays.
"It definitely gets you in it," said Reimer, who had won his previous two starts. "They obviously needed the two points and they came out hard. We were expecting them to come out hard and we just wanted to weather the storm, and I thought we did a pretty good job of it.
"I mean, they are a good team and they are fighting for playoffs, and I thought we did a great job. We blocked a lot of shots, even though they had 19, I thought we were sacrificing the body and playing really well. I was impressed with the way we handled it."
Toronto had six shots in the scoreless first period; forward David Booth hit the left post on one partial breakaway.
Bergeron gave Boston a 1-0 lead 19 seconds into the second period. His wrist shot from in front came after Reimer made a save on Bergeron's initial one-timer from the right hash mark.
James van Riemsdyk tied it 1-1 at 14:31 of the second period. Defenseman Morgan Rielly's shot required a Rask blocker save, and van Riemsdyk got a piece of the rebound before Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid banked the puck in off Rask's back.
Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul had the best chances to break the tie with two wrist shots from in tight at 12:25. Rask went down and stacked his pads to keep the shots out of the net.
"Sometimes we say that a lot, it's not the quantity, it's the quality of shots," Bruins coach Claude Julien said about Rask's performance. "I know that two-pad stack save at that one point was probably one of the biggest saves there late in the third. He had to make the saves when he needed to. Again, in that shootout it's the same thing, left on his own and some pretty good shooters went up against him."
The Bruins outshot the Maple Leafs 47-25 through three periods.
Boston finishes up with three games on the road starting against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.
"Everyone is playing desperate hockey, good hockey, and you know it definitely keeps us on our toes, and we have to do the job," Bergeron said. "And you know it's in our heads. They're not going to quit, and we knew that heading into the last stretch, but we're seeing it right now, so we have to keep going."
The Maple Leafs host the Senators on Sunday.