Recchi scores twice, Bruins beat Maple Leafs

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TORONTO (AP) -- The Boston Bruins seem to be gearing up for a

long playoff run.

After holding a comfortable lead in the Eastern Conference for

most of the season, the Bruins can finally see the start of the

postseason coming into view.

A 7-5 victory over the Toronto on Saturday night left Boston

with just eight games remaining in the regular season. Coach

Claude Julien believes each of them is important even though his

team seems destined to wrap up the No. 1 seed a little early.

"We've got our own issues," Julien said. "Just because we're in

a playoff spot doesn't mean that everything's OK. Our play in

the last month and a half hasn't been up to par. We need to get

better in our game.

"So those games do mean something for us. It's about fine-tuning

ourselves and getting some momentum heading into the playoffs."

He was happy with everything but the team's defensive play

against the Maple Leafs.

One possible explanation for the lapses was the fact that Boston

hadn't played in five days. The stretch of inactivity was even

longer for backup goalie Manny Fernandez, who got his first

start since March 8.

It wasn't an excuse many Bruins went for. Fernandez, for one,

didn't think the break should be a reason for the team to

struggle.

"You want to take that positively," Fernandez said. "Playoffs

are around the corner. I think at that point it would be a good

time to have maybe five days off and maybe rest a little bit.

We've been hoping to turn things around and that's the direction

we're trying to take."

Mark Recchi scored two goals, Dennis Wideman and Matt Hunwick

each added three assists, and Chuck Kobasew, Michael Ryder,

Shawn Thornton, David Krejci and Blake Wheeler also scored for

Boston. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice for Toronto, and

Nikolai Kulemin, John Mitchell and Niklas Hagman added goals.

"It's a tough loss, giving up seven goals is never fun," Hagman

said. "We made it tough on our goalies. As a team, we need to

play better."

Rookie Justin Pogge was chased from the Toronto goal in the

second period after allowing six goals on 20 shots. He's 1-4-1

in six NHL starts.

"The bounces just weren't going my way," Pogge said. "I've got

to make myself bigger in there."

Ponikarovsky put the Maple Leafs ahead 4-3 when he scored his

second goal of the night at 6:06 of the second period. That was

his third point of the evening and hi 14th in the last seven

games.

Boston roared ahead by scoring three goals in a 3:43 span.

Recchi tied it with his second power-play goal on a tip-in at

9:01, and Thornton put the Bruins ahead for good at 11:30. His

long shot through traffic seemed to fool Pogge.

"Everyone pays $450 bucks a ticket, so they got their money's

worth anyways," said Thornton, from Toronto. "I only know that

because I had to buy them for my parents."

Leafs coach Ron Wilson called a timeout at that point to try and

settle his team, but Krejci made it 6-4 on a breakaway at 12:44.

Curtis Joseph was sent in to relieve Pogge - the reverse of what

happened during a 5-3 loss in Buffalo on Friday night - but the

game was put out of reach when Wheeler scored at 17:04.

In the third period, Hagman scored his 20th goal of the season -

and the 100th of his career -- with a high wrist shot at 14:39.

That was a welcome sight in his first game since sustaining a

concussion February 26.

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