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Fans celebrate as the Toronto Maple Leafs score against the Boston Bruins.

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

The rise and fall of Leaf Nation was great for business at Toronto restaurants – while it lasted.

Sales shot up 31.1 per cent at bars and restaurants near the Air Canada Centre on home game nights during the first-round playoff series against Boston, compared to regular season games the previous week, according to a spending report by Moneris Solutions Corp., which processes credit card and debit transactions.

And yet while overall bar and restaurant sales were up, sales at dedicated bars near the ACC actually fell during home and away games, Moneris found. Sales were up significantly at establishments away from the rink.

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"We all remember the scenes outside the Air Canada Centre with thousands of people watching the games on the big screen," said Malcolm Fowler, vice-president of marketing at Moneris. "Those people weren't drinking in bars."

The jump in sales in Toronto eclipsed home game results for the three other Canadian cities with teams in the National Hockey League playoffs – Montreal (up 16.3 per cent), Ottawa (up 12.6 per cent) and Vancouver (down 10.3 per cent).

Vancouver bars and restaurants actually did better during away games (up 23.4 per cent) than home games in their series versus the San Jose Sharks.

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