TORONTO — Mitch Marner had three assists and Patrick Marleau celebrated his 1,600th NHL game as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Monday night.
Each teams scored twice in a frenetic second period that saw Boston outshoot Toronto 18-9. With the Leafs leading 3-2 going into the third, Boston’s Danton Heinen hit the goalpost but the Bruins could not breach the Leaf defence.
Zach Hyman added an empty-net goal with 1:35 remaining to seal the deal.
It was the 672nd meeting between the two Original Six teams in a rivalry that dates back to 1924.
Travis Dermott, Igor Ozhiganov and Josh Leivo also scored for Toronto (17-8-0). It was Ozhiganov’s first career NHL goal and the second for Dermott. Marner collected a pair of primary assists, upping his NHL-best total to 24 (he has 27 assists in all).
David Pastrnak, who had a hat trick in a 5-1 win over Toronto on Nov. 10, scored twice for Boston (13-7-4).
The Bruins lost Kevan Miller late in the first period after the defenceman took a puck to the throat area off a John Tavares shot.
Both teams were playing their fourth game in six nights.
Toronto started the night fourth overall in the league with 32 points, two ahead of seventh-place Boston. The Leafs were third in the Atlantic Division, just above Boston.
The Bruins, who won 3-2 in Montreal on Saturday night, arrived having won two straight and three of their last four. Toronto was coming off a 6-0 win over visiting Philadelphia on Saturday night.
Maleau, a 39-year-old Leafs winger, is the 11th NHLer to reach the 1,600 regular-season game milestone. Marleau has missed just 31 games over 21 seasons since making his NHL debut on Oct. 1, 1997.
“Great great human being,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said prior to the game.
“Hard worker, great pro, great person,” he added. “So important for this team it’s not even funny and I’m not even talking about what he does on the ice. He’s fantastic.”
Marleau got a standing ovation from the Scotiabank Arena crowd after a video tribute in the first period.
Boston’s David Backes had an excellent chance early on but his shot clipped the top of the crossbar. Hyman needed some early repair work after Miller’s stick came apart and a piece hit Hyman in the face.
Toronto’s Nazem Kadri hit the goalpost with a backhand after being put in alone by a Dermott stretch pass. Boston’s Colby Cave hit the Toronto crossbar soon after with a shot through traffic.
Dermott finally beat Jaroslav Halak with a shot through traffic at 17:44 for his first of the season after the Bruins top line couldn’t clear the puck.
Boston, gaining momentum, outshot Toronto 10-0 to open the second period before Toronto put up a shot midway through the period. Pastrnak, off a feed from Brad Marchand, tied it up on the power play at 3:39
The Bruins hit another goalpost on the power play later in the second period. Seconds later, with the penalty over, a freewheeling Marner found Ozhiganov cruising in from the point and his shot banked in off a Boston body at 13:06.
Pastrnak tied it up at 14:22, taking a nifty Torey Krug pass to the side of the net before slotting it past Frederik Andersen to up his season total to 19.
Leivo put Toronto ahead 3-2 on the power play at 18:38, banging home a Tyler Ennis rebound after a Marner rush.
Both teams were missing key parts.
Toronto was without Auston Matthews (shoulder) while restricted free agent William Nylander remains unsigned. The Bruin injured list included star centre Patrice Bergeron (rib) and defencemen Zdeno Chara (left knee) and Charlie McAvoy (concussion).
Sweden’s Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, known as JFK, centred the Bruins’ top line in Bergeron’s absence.
Toronto defenceman Nikita Zaitsev missed the morning skate because of illness but played anyway.
Andersen came into the game with 10-1-0 regular season record against Boston — he is 3-3 in the post-season. His last meaningful start against the Bruins was Game 7 of the first round of the 2017-18 playoffs when Boston rallied to end the Leafs’ season with a 7-4 win.
Toronto hosts the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press