BOSTON — The Bruins rediscovered some long-lost arts on Saturday night, and hoped they weren’t about to relive a too-familiar one.
Stuck in a scoring drought without No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron, and subject to increasingly physical tactics with big defensemen Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller also sidelined by injuries, the Bruins shot and fought to a 6-3 victory over the Maple Leafs, stopping a losing streak after three games.
Charlie McAvoy, playing for just the second time after missing 20 games with a concussion, didn’t play the last 10:07 after taking a late hit that resulted in Leafs forward Zach Hyman being assessed a major penalty for interference, as well as being attacked by Matt Grzelcyk, McAvoy’s defense partner.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said McAvoy, who left the ice under his own power, went through the NHL’s concussion protocol and “got through it. He was cleared to come back.” McAvoy, who was plus-4 before he got hit, came onto the ice when introduced as the Game’s No. 3 star, and was expected to travel with the B’s for Sunday afternoon’s date at Ottawa (5:05, NESN, 92.9 FM).
“I thought our guys responded well,” said Cassidy, who considered Hyman’s hit “late,” “unnecessary,” and added that “it annoys you, especially when it’s Charlie, who’s just come back. You wonder, ‘Are they targeting him or not?’ ”
Winger Chris Wagner later sought an appropriate target, smashing Leafs’ puck-moving defenseman Morgan Rielly with an open-ice hit 1:02 after McAvoy left. Wagner then fought Leafs veteran Ron Hainsey; both were thrown out.
“When something like that happens to Charlie, you want to respond in the correct way,” Wagner said.
The Bruins, held to two goals or fewer in eight of the first nine games Bergeron missed with rib and sternoclavicular injuries, wanted to respond to that, as well, and got one of their most complete offensive performances of the season — despite the absence of 10-goal scorer Jake DeBrusk because of concussion symptoms — to back Jaroslav Halak’s 29 saves. The B’s scored at 4-on-4 and on the power play, receiving two goals from one line of key veteran scorers and three from younger players who had struggled.
“Great effort by everyone,” said center David Krejci, who spent an entire game between Bergeron’s wingers instead of jumping in between them in-game. Krejci scored a goal and added two assists; linemates Brad Marchand (three assists) and David Pastrnak (two) picked up multiple helpers.
The B’s, who got goals from six scorers, had a 6-1 lead at one point in the third period.
Rookie Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (third of the season) finished a Pastrnak pass during a 4-on-4 situation to put the B’s ahead, 1-0, at 11:20 of the first period.
David Backes' third of the season made it 2-0 on one of the Bruins’ three power plays in the second period, and Torey Krug’s first of the season boosted the lead to 3-0 with just 2:15 to go in the second. Krug, who missed the first 11 games of the season with an ankle injury, had earlier contributed his 13th assist in 18 games.
The Leafs, and goalie Frederik Andersen (22 saves), imploded in the third period. Travis Dermott (4:03) answered a goal by Danton Heinen (third of the season) at 1:47, but the Bruins struck right back on Krejci’s goal at 4:37. Andersen was pulled after he dropped Heinen’s bad-angle floater, and rookie Ryan Donato became the fourth Bruin to score his third goal of the season at 6:13.
“You have to win by committee, and that’s what we did tonight,” Marchand said. “It was great to see (Forsbacka Karlsson) get one early to get us going, and (Heinen) had a great game tonight.
“We need everyone to produce at different times. So yeah, it was a fun night.