The Boston Bruins chose not to worry about how they almost blew a three-goal lead. Instead, they celebrated the way they regained control of the game.
Mark Recchi scored twice in the final 3 minutes, and Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots as Boston squandered most of a three-goal lead and held on to beat visiting Toronto, 5-2, last night.
"Three-goal leads are the worst," Recchi said. "We were OK for two periods. In the third they came out and we weren't ready for it. It's nice that we responded after they did come back."
Mark Stuart, Derek Morris and David Krejci scored to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead after two periods. Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin had goals in the third to cut Toronto's deficit to 3-2, but Recchi scored with 2:37 to play and then added an empty-netter with 12 seconds left to clinch it.
Vesa Toskala made 29 saves for Toronto, which has lost seven straight to Boston, including a 7-2 defeat on Saturday night.
"We've only got one win in our division, which is awful," Leafs defenseman Ian White said. "We got spanked by these guys not even a week ago. We were expecting to come in here and have a different showing. It's unfortunate. It could be a number of factors, I'm not exactly sure what the problem is but we have to find ways to win."
The Bruins improved to 8-1-1 in the last 10 games and took over first place in the Northeast Division.
It was the second time in 6 days Boston took a big lead on the Maple Leafs and former Bruins forward Phil Kessel, who signed with Toronto as a restricted free agent in the offseason.
"The third period we went back on the attack and did the things we needed to do," said Toronto coach Ron Wilson, who complained about penalties that weren't called. "Obviously, scoring 18 seconds in got our team fired up and them back on their heels a little bit so it opened up the game."
In other games:
* At Vancouver, Daniel Sedin notched a hat trick and Roberto Luongo made 23 saves as the Canucks held on to defeat the Atlanta Thrashers, 4-3.
* At Montreal, Pascal Dupuis scored on a slap shot 13:21 into the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 19 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins stopped the Canadiens' three-game winning streak with a 3-2 win.
* At Nashville, Steve Sullivan scored the winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout and the Predators beat Columbus, 4-3.