Bruins and Leafs looking to add players, points
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TORONTO -- The Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs have reason to believe they can still be better -- and soon.
Both teams are pretty good as it is, and they meet Monday night at the Scotiabank Arena following impressive victories on Saturday.
The Maple Leafs (16-8-0), led by three goals from Andreas Johnsson and shutout goaltending by backup Garret Sparks, defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-0 at home, while the Bruins (13-6-4) defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in Montreal.
The improvement for these teams is expected to come with the return of key players from injury.
The Maple Leafs are anticipating the return of center Auston Matthews from a shoulder injury within a week. Not only that, but holdout right winger William Nylander, a restricted free agent, also could be re-signed this week.
"It's my assumption we're getting both back," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "Obviously, we'll be a better hockey club when we have them both. They give you a whole other line and give you much more depth. Ideally, that's what you had in mind when you started the year. I expected to have them a lot sooner than we have, but we'll be excited to have them both."
The Bruins can expect the return of a couple of mainstays in the coming weeks -- center Patrice Bergeron (rib/sternoclavicular) and defenseman Zdeno Chara (knee).
Meanwhile, the Bruins are receiving some good play from their younger players.
"The team's growing in front of our eyes," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game Saturday. "Young guys that need to learn how to win. Listen, I don't want to call it playoff hockey in November, but we are in close games every night. To me, that's playoff hockey and you have to be comfortable in these games."
The Bruins won when defenseman John Moore scored his first goal of the season on a power play at 17:03 of the third period. The Bruins also had defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in overtime Friday night at the TD Garden.
Jake DeBrusk scored his seventh goal in his past nine games Saturday, giving him 10 for the season. He was playing on a line with Danton Heinen and David Krejci for the second game in a row. "By far our best line," Cassidy had said following the win over the Penguins.
"Kind of nice that I struggled earlier," DeBrusk said. "Because now it makes me hungrier to get more goals."
David Backes also scored his first goal of the season for Boston in Montreal.
"I've quit thinking," Backes said. "Thinking is, uh, paralysis when you're in slumps. It was a quick play and that was good for me. Get it, look for a hole and shoot it as hard as I could. It was a beautiful sight in my mind to see the puck go off my stick and into the net."
The Maple Leafs had been falling into a rut before they scored early and often against the Flyers, taking a 4-0 lead 12:20 into the game with three of the goals scored by Johnsson.
"After (the third goal) it kind of felt unreal," Johnsson said. "It's hard to explain. I had the first goal, then the second goal and, all of a sudden, the third one, I'm like, 'what's going on?'"
In their three previous games, the Maple Leafs had fallen behind 2-0 and lost two of them on the road to the Caroline Hurricanes Wednesday and the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday. Until those games, the Maple Leafs were 9-1-0 on the road.
They did come back Monday to beat the Blue Jackets 4-2 at home after falling behind 2-0.
Saturday marked the second Maple Leafs home game in a row without a penalty being called on either team.
The teams met on Nov. 10 at Boston with the Bruins winning 5-1 led by David Pastrnak's three goals.
Updated November 25, 2018