BOSTON (AP) — Patrice Bergeron scored the only shootout goal and the streaking Boston Bruins improved their playoff chances in their home finale with a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Boston and Pittsburgh hold the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots with 95 points each, but the Penguins have played one fewer game. The Bruins have three games remaining — at Washington, Florida and Tampa Bay.
The Bruins took a season-high 50 shots on goal but scored only when Bergeron converted his own rebound 19 seconds into the second period. James van Riemsdyk tied the game at 14:31.
The first three shots of the shootout — by Toronto’s Tyler Bozak and van Riemsdyk and Boston’s David Krejci — missed. But Bergeron skated in slowly, held the puck and got goalie James Reimer to drop to the ice before lifting it over his left pad. Boston goalie Tuukka Rask followed by stopping Nazem Kadri.
Toronto, with the second worst record in the East, is 2-9 in its last 11 games and fell to 8-27-5 on the road.
It was Boston’s fourth win in 13 shootouts.
Bergeron gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the second with his 22nd goal of the season. He took a pass from the right corner by Brad Marchand, but his 15-foot shot was stopped by Reimer. The puck came right back to Bergeron, and he connected.
Toronto tied the game at 14:31 on van Riemsdyk’s 26th goal. Morgan Rielly’s shot from the middle of the blue line was stopped by Rask. The puck bounced off van Riemsdyk, hit Rask and landed behind him. Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid tried to jam it into Rask’s pads, but it went into the net.
The Bruins missed two good opportunities within a minute during the third period. With about six minutes gone, Ryan Spooner was alone with the puck in front of the crease, but Reimer stopped his shot. Then Marchand shot at a sharp angle from left to right and the puck went across the crease behind Reimer but missed the net.
Boston also failed to score on three power-play opportunities, and done so only once on its last 15 chances.
NOTES: Toronto center Trevor Smith did not return after being checked into the corner boards by Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara just two minutes into the game. … Rask played in his 67th game, most by a Bruins goalie since Byron Dafoe played in 68 in 1998-99. … Fourteen Bruins players had at least one shot on goal in the first period when Boston outshot Toronto 19-6.