Bruins batter Leafs in Boston

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask makes a save against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second...

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask makes a save against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second period of their NHL hockey game in Boston, Mass. on Saturday, Dec. 5. (REUTERS, Brian Snyder)

Rob Longley, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:26 AM ET

BOSTON -- Given that the price was draft picks, it possibly will be years before the Bruins know what value they ultimately have in the trade that sent Phil Kessel out of town.

Last night though, they sure had his number -- and the rest of the Maple Leafs, for good measure.

Playing at the TD Garden for the first time since being dealt to Toronto, Kessel took a rough ride from the crowd and an even worse one from his former teammates.

When the bullying was mercifully over, the Leafs had rivalled their worst loss of the season, a 7-2 drubbing that exposed many of their weaknesses.

And for further humiliation, the Bruins were led by a hat trick from Marc Savard, who seems to be doing just fine without Kessel on his wing.

"There was pressure, but that was probably the worst game I've played in a while," said Kessel who was held to just two shots on net. "We didn't play well tonight, I didn't play well.

"I've got to be better."

He's not the only one.

Defensive breakdowns that were apparent in a 6-3 win over Columbus earlier in the week continued against an angry pack of Bruins, who had been embarrassed themselves in a 5-1 loss to Montreal the night before.

"You have to compete and our defence didn't," a testy Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "That's about all I have to say tonight ... we stunk and we'll move on."

The Bruins dominated from the outset, which included two goals in the first 6:01 of the game and a 7-0 lead midway through the third when the Leafs counted a pair of meaningless goals.

Kessel was on the ice for the first three and was jeered whenever he touched the puck.

"It's a learning experience and he'll be a better player for it," Wilson said of Kessel, who was a minus-3 on the night. "He didn't obviously have his best game but we weren't very good around him. We're not a one-man show."

Kessel had no answer for the tough checking matchups thrown at him by Bruins coach Claude Julien. For most of the night, he found himself up against defencemen Zdeno Chara and Derek Morris. Kessel didn’t manage his second shot on net until four minutes into the third period.

"They play a good defensive system and I didn't handle the puck well," Kessel said.

Savard had no such concerns. Fresh off signing a contract extension earlier in the week, Savard clearly was ready to show his former line mate that things still are fine in Beantown.

"We all know the situation, the big talk with (Kessel) coming back," Julien said. "I think our players showed they wanted to go."

While the Bruins were checking, they also were scoring -- often at will -- as they humiliated a Leafs team that can't seem to handle prosperity. They won't have to wait long for a shot at revenge, however -- the Leafs return to Boston on Thursday for a rematch.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca


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