BOSTON — The Boston Bruins were tired of being pushed around.
David Krejci had a goal and assist to move past Hall of Famer Cam Neely for 10th on the Bruins’ all-time scoring list, and Boston snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Earlier in the week, Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said teams “could be” playing more physical against his more skilled players with a pair of bigger defensemen – Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller – sidelined by injuries. They seemed to respond.
“That’s how we were going to win tonight,” Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. “We had that edge and I think it brought a lot to the table. You look at our lineup and I think that’s what we need right now. We’re bringing that to the table. We need that to win.”
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, David Backes, Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen and Krug also scored for the Bruins. Jaroslav Halak stopped 29 shots.
Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen was pulled early in the third after giving up six goals on 28 shots. He entered with an 11-1 record and 2.08 goals against in his career against Boston. Auston Matthews, Travis Dermott and Andreas Johnsson each had a goal.
The game became more heated after Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy took what the Bruins felt was a late hit by Zach Hyman midway into the third. McAvoy missed 20 games with a concussion before returning earlier this week.
“You hate to see that,” said teammate Matt Grzelcyk, who fought with Hyman. “Hopefully Charlie’s OK.”
The Maple Leafs felt the extra hitting early.
“That’s hockey, and it’s our job to respond to that,” Matthews said. “Obviously they made a push back and we didn’t respond.”
Leading 1-0, the Bruins appeared to be more physical and determined when they scored twice in the second period.
Less than a minute after McAvoy hit the post — Boston’s second shot off iron in about a 3 1/2-minute span — Brad Marchand set up Backes in the slot, where he fired a rising shot past Andersen’s glove and inside the right post for a power-play goal at 8:54.
Krug’s first goal first of the season made it 3-0 just under nine minutes later. After a flurry of chances, he scored on a wrister from the left point.
Heinen collected a puck along the boards early in the third, split a pair of Toronto players before flipping a shot over Andersen to make it 4-0 at 1:47.
Dermott beat Halak with a shot from the mid-slot area 4:03 into the third, but Krejci made it 5-1 only 34 seconds later. Donato scored at 6:13, sending Andersen to the bench to a chorus of jeers and cheers. Garret Sparks replaced him and stopped all four shots he faced.
Toronto has allowed 11 total goals in its last two games.
“We talked about the importance of defending. It’s just going out there and executing,” center John Tavares said. “It’s difficult to do it over 82 games. There’s adversity you face.”
The Bruins had taken a 1-0 edge 11:20 into the game when Forsbacka-Karlsson redirected a pass and tapped in his own rebound.
Cassidy was hoping a little Christmas cheer could help his struggling team. On Friday, they did their annual charity toy-shopping spree to be delivered to children hospitalized locally. “It’s no fun when you’re not winning,” he said after the morning skate. “We had a day off yesterday to do some shopping for the kids, if that doesn’t get you in a good mood.” … Gemel Smith, acquired off waivers from Dallas on Thursday, made his Bruins debut. He wore No. 28. “I was just looking for more of an opportunity,” he said Saturday morning of being let go by the Stars. … The teams’ final regular season meeting of the season is Jan. 12 in Toronto. … Krejci has 592 career points. Neely had 590.
Maple Leafs: At Carolina on Tuesday night.
Bruins: At Ottawa on Sunday.