The Boston Bruins continue to have the Toronto Maple Leafs' - and Phil Kessel's - number.
Boston gutted out a 2-1 win over the Leafs, beating Toronto for the 11th time in their last 14 meetings and holding Kessel - a former Bruin - without a goal for the ninth consecutive game since he was dealt away.
The game had a curious atmosphere at the Air Canada Centre, as with the world junior semi-final between Canada and the United States on at the same time, fans were heard cheering for Canadian goals while play was ongoing between the Leafs and Bruins.
In contrast to their penchant for slow starts, Toronto came out hard in the game and peppered former Leafs prospect Tuukka Rask with 11 shots in the first period and 37 overall.
Sent in on a breakaway off a pretty dump pass from his own zone by defenceman Luke Schenn, Leafs centre Mikhail Grabovksi opened the scoring late in the first, scoring his ninth goal in his last 12 games.
The Bruins, tops in the weak Northeast Division and now 16 points up on the last-place Leafs, roared back in the middle frame, however, carrying the balance of play in out shooting Toronto 17-8 and getting goals from Nathan Horton and Marc Savard.
The win was only the third of the season for Rask, who was Boston's starter a year ago but was making only his second start since Dec. 15.
Leafs winger Phil Kessel came out flying and had several good chances in the game, but after 60 minutes, the results were the same against his former team.
Kessel has played nine games against the Bruins since they dealt him to Toronto in September of 2009 and has no goals and one assist. He came into the game on a small hot streak with six points in his last five games and has generally looked more inspired than during an earlier slump.
Kessel said Monday he is tiring of questions about "the trade" every time the Leafs face Boston, a division rival.
"I got traded two years ago now," Kessel said. "So I don't know why we're talking about it still. I answer it every time we play Boston. What is this now, the ninth time? I don't really have anything to say about it."
Reimer gets a shot
The good news is the Leafs have a netminder with a save percentage well above .900.
The bad news? It's the rookie Reimer, who again played well Monday by making 31 saves in his second consecutive start after winning his first 5-1 over the Ottawa Senators on New Year's Day.
The Winnipeg native was a fourth-round pick by the Leafs in 2006 and has been in the organization's depth chart the past three years after starting in the ECHL. His numbers with the Toronto Marlies have been impressive, with a .925 save percentage last season and .920 so far this year.
Despite his strong play, Reimer's expected to be returned to the AHL later this week when Jean-Sébastien Giguère returns from a groin injury.
Picking an all-star
The NHL will unveil the six starters on Tuesday and the entire roster a week later for the 2011 all-star game, which will be played at the end of the month in Raleigh, N.C.
The league generally looks to have all 30 teams represented in some fashion on all-star weekend, but it could be a difficult call who - if anyone - should go for the Leafs this time around.
Toronto's best player this season has likely been Grabovski, who has put in a consistent effort since training camp, but he hardly has the profile of an all-star leaguewide.
Kessel is perhaps the most likely choice - one that is often influenced by players' teams and general managers - but his uneven play has hardly been all-star worthy.