Chris Bourque scored his first goal as a Bruin to help Boston edge the Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0 on Saturday night.
While the Bruins were held to the one goal early on, they threatened throughout a tightly played contest. Toronto goalie James Reimer deserved better on the night, stopping 33 shots from all angles as the visitors came at him in waves.
Toronto’s offence was quiet and Boston, especially stingy in the third, limited the Leafs to 21 shots. The Bruins also killed off two minor penalties in the last nine minutes to hang onto the win.
It was the first meeting of the year between the two Original Six rivals.
Boston won all six meetings against Toronto last season, outscoring the Leafs 36-10. The one-sided series included 7-0 and 8-0 defeats.
Coming into Saturday’s game, Boston was 23-5-5 in its last 33 games against Toronto and was 12-2-3 in the last 17 visits to Toronto.
The Bruins-Leafs rivalry has been upped by the 2009 trade that saw sniper Phil Kessel go to Toronto in exchange for two first-round draft picks that produced Tyler Seguin and defenceman Dougie Hamilton and a second-rounder (Jared Knight).
Hamilton, a 19-year-old Toronto native named Canada’s top junior defenceman last season, was making his debut at the Air Canada Centre.
Tuukka Rask, acquired from Toronto for Andrew Raycroft in 2006, started in the Boston goal.
Kessel came into the game in search of his first goal — his 100th for the Leafs — despite leading Toronto with 33 shots in the seven previous games. He has four assists.
His first shot came midway through the second period, glancing off the crossbar like a sniper’s bullet. Kessel disappeared to the dressing room in the third but soon returned to the fray and had a good chance that was stopped by Rask on the power play.
There was early nostalgia as a Bourque — Chris, son of Bruins icon Ray — opened the scoring for Boston.
The five-foot-eight Bourque crashed the net to stuff in a nifty angled pass from behind the net from Chris Kelly at 8:54. It was the first goal as a Bruin for Bourque, whose only other NHL goal was in December 2008 as a member of the Washington Capitals.
The Bourques are the fifth father-son combination to play for the Bruins. Chris led the AHL in scoring in 2011-12 with 92 points for Hershey. Brother Ryan is currently playing for the Rangers’ AHL farm team in Connecticut.
Since 2007-08, Chris Bourque has played 13 games for the Caps, 20 for Pittsburgh and now seven for Boston.
A Toronto goal was called off at 11:32 for goalie interference. Rask seemed to come out of his crease and run into Nazem Kadri as he tried to stop a Cody Franson shot from the point. Toronto coach Randy Carlyle seemed incensed by the call after watching the replay on the big screen.
Boston won 17-of-21 faceoffs in the first period.
The Bruins had a goal disallowed at 6:30 of the second when the puck appeared to deflect off Seguin’s skate past a prone Reimer. The league later explained the referee was in the process of calling the play dead before the puck went in, because of incidental contact between Boston’s Brad Marchand and Reimer, with the Toronto goalie “unable to play his position following the contact.”
Marchand ended up crashing into the end boards on the play and briefly went to the dressing room afterwards. He did not finish the game.
Reimer was sharp in the second, when Boston outshot Toronto 12-6. Rask was also up to the task, stopping Kessel from close range with five minutes remaining in the period.
Boston’s Lane MacDermid and Toronto’s Mark Fraser, who squared off some three minutes into the game, fought again in the second with MacDermid knocking Fraser down with a solid right.
The Leafs came out hitting on the night, but failed to dent the Boston defence.
Hulking Bruins captain Zedeno Charo took exception to Leo Komarov boarding Johnny Boychuk in the third, approaching menacingly to make a sandwich of Komarov with the corner boards. His vigilante attitude ended up earning an offsetting minor.
James van Riemsdyk, parked on the Boston crease, had a chance late in the game when a rebound dropped in his lap. But the burly Leaf was unable to put a stick on it.
The Bruins, killing off a slashing penalty to Seguin, hit the post with the Leaf net empty with a minute remaining.
Supersized forward Frazer McLaren, claimed off waivers from the San Jose Sharks, made his Leaf debut. The six-foot-five 230-pounder has 71 fights in the WHL and 78 in the pros, according to Hockeyfights.com.
He saw minimal action on the fourth line, which was on the ice when Bourque scored.
The Bruins were coming off their first regulation setback of the season, a 7-4 loss to Buffalo on Thursday that saw them squander a two-goal lead. They had only given up 12 goals in their previous six games combined.
Toronto had won two straight — over Buffalo and Washington.
Notes — The game drew several members of the Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts and Miami Heat star LeBron Jones, who tweeted: “At my first hockey game. Pretty Damn cool.” James will be back at the ACC on Sunday to play the Raptors ... Don Cherry, Ron MacLean and Doug Gilmour dropped the ceremonial game puck ... The Toronto game was Boston’s only third away in eight outings. The Bruins wrap up their two-game trip to Canada on Wednesday in Montreal ... Toronto concludes its current three-game homestand on Monday against Carolina. ... The Leafs injury list included Jofffrey Lupul (broken arm), Clarke MacArthur (finger) and Mike Brown (shoulder). Boston was without Shawn Thornton (concussion) and Daniel Paille (upper body). ... Jamie Tardif, called up from the Providence Bruins, made his NHL debut at 28 in his seventh pro season. Tardif, who has played 449 games in the ECHL and AHL since turning pro in 2006-07, led the Bruins out for the warmup.