Rookies Mitch Marner and Connor Brown both scored as the Toronto Maple Leafs rolled over the Boston Bruins 4-1 for their first win of the season at Air Canada Centre on Saturday evening.
James van Riemsdyk and Milan Michalek also added goals for the Maple Leafs (1-0-1), while Frederik Andersen turned in a 24-save performance for his first win in a Toronto uniform.
Anton Khudobin surrendered four goals on 20 shots for Boston (1-1-0), David Pastrnak scoring his third goal already this season in defeat.
One of six rookies in Toronto’s lineup, Brown opened the scoring with his second career goal just over two minutes into the first. The 22-year-old Toronto native pounced on a Matt Hunwick point shot that caromed off a pile of bodies in front of Khudobin, shooting it high for the 1-0 lead.
A Toronto-area native himself playing in front of the hometown fans for the first time, Marner added the Leafs second goal about 10 minutes later.
The fourth overall pick of the 2015 draft, Marner took a pass from Tyler Bozak just outside the Boston blue line, gained the offensive zone with time and space before firing a shot far-side beyond the Bruins goaltender. It was the first career NHL goal for the 19 year old and sixth straight goal scored by a rookie to start the season following Auston Matthews’ four-goal NHL debut on Wednesday night.
Toronto is the first team in the expansion era (since 1967-68) to have rookies combine for the first six goals to start a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Van Riemsdyk broke up that streak one minute 17 seconds after Marner’s goal.
Set up by Bozak, who had two assists on the night, van Riemsdyk wheeled into the slot and slung a low backhand past Khudobin. It was the first goal of the season for the 27 year old, who missed most of last year with a foot injury.
Half of Toronto’s first six shots beat Khudobin, who was starting his first game of the season for Boston.
The Bruins crept back to within two when Pastrnak struck on a late period power play. John-Michael Liles was the instigator, sucking in the defence as he crept in from the left point before finding Pastrnak, who whistled a shot in to an open cage.
It was the final salvo in a busy first period, which also included an unlikely fight between Nazem Kadri and David Backes. The two fought last season while Backes was still playing for the St. Louis Blues.
Boston, which came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in their season opener, pushed back in the middle period but was unable to beat Andersen on nine shots.
The 27-year-old Andersen was roughed up for five goals in his Leafs debut on Wednesday, but delivered a stable performance on Saturday.
The game was often played at high speeds with mistakes by the Leafs youth, particularly in the second period, resulting in chances and sustained offensive zone time for the Bruins. Striking for four goals against Ottawa in a historic NHL debut, Matthews was relatively quiet in his hometown debut, finishing with no points and two shots.
The Leafs speed and skill was again apparent though and whatever comeback chances the Bruins had were quickly dashed in the third period when Michalek tapped in a point pass from Morgan Rielly.
The game turned testy a short while later when Matt Martin delivered a crunching hit in the Bruins zone on Torey Krug. Martin, the league’s long-reigning hits leader, was forced to fight Boston captain Zdeno Chara for his efforts.
The Maple Leafs retired 17 sweaters in a pre-game ceremony, altering a long-standing team policy where jersey numbers were honoured but not retired.Report Typo/Error