Maple Leafs-Bruins Preview
By MATT BECKER
(AP) -- The Boston Bruins are ready to put their most successful month in more than four decades behind them and focus on the future.
They might not want to forget about November too quickly, however, because December opens with a rematch against their last opponent.
The Bruins look to win for the 13th time in 14 games and sweep a home-and-home series from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night in Boston.
After sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference at the end of October, the Bruins went 12-0-1 in November to vault into second place. It marked the first time Boston (15-7-1) had a month without a regulation loss since January 1969.
"It's quite an accomplishment," goalie Tim Thomas said after Wednesday's 6-3 win over Toronto. "It might be one of those things that only happens ... well, for a lot of guys it won't even happen once in their career, right? For anybody who has played for the Bruins their whole career, obviously no one's done that since 1969.
"Unfortunately, the way the world works and the way this league works, November's gone. It's behind us. This is December."
Boston opens December with a familiar opponent after beating the Maple Leafs (14-9-2) for the third time Wednesday.
Milan Lucic scored two goals, David Krejci had a goal and two assists, and Zdeno Chara, Benoit Pouliot and Brad Marchand also scored for Boston, which has outscored Toronto 19-5 in the season series.
Wednesday's game was much closer than the final scored indicated, however. The Maple Leafs, who are one point behind the Bruins in the Northeast Division, trailed by one until Lucic scored with 4:39 remaining in the third period. Marchand added an empty-netter in the final minute.
"That's a good hockey team," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "They seem to have our number. I was actually pleased with the way we played. Unfortunately, they got five or six power plays and we really only had one and a half. I thought we worked hard enough to draw a few more penalties but we didn't.
"If we keep playing like that, we'll eventually beat these guys."
It could be difficult for Toronto to earn that win in Boston, where the Bruins are 7-1-1 in the last nine meetings.
The likelihood of having to face Thomas again could also make things tough for Toronto.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner, who stopped 34 shots Wednesday, has a 1.76 goals-against average during a career-best nine-game winning streak. He has been in net for each game against the Leafs this season, posting a 1.67 GAA.
Lucic has five goals and three assists versus Toronto this season, while Chara has two goals and five assists. Krejci, who signed a three-year extension Wednesday, has two goals and four assists in the three meetings.
Mikhail Grabovski, Joffrey Lupul and Matt Frattin scored Wednesday for Toronto, which saw its three-game winning streak come to an end.
"They're a legit good team," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I think the reason we've been successful is we've never lost respect for them and we come prepared to play them."
The Leafs expect to have James Reimer, sidelined since Oct. 22 with concussion-like symptoms, serve as the backup goaltender Saturday.
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 34 of 39 shots Wednesday after recording a 1.71 GAA in winning his previous four starts.
Lupul has three goals and eight assists during a season-high seven-game point streak. Phil Kessel, Toronto's leader with 16 goals and 32 points, hasn't scored in a season high-tying four straight games and has just one assist against Boston this season.
Updated December 2, 2011