Updated: October 20, 2011, 11:00 PM ET

Highlight: Bruins Rout Leafs

Rapid Reaction: Floodgates open for Bruins

Murphy By James Murphy
ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- Bruins oach Claude Julien's line changes paid off Thursday night, as the Bruins -- the lowest-scoring team in the NHL heading into the Northeast Divisional tilt with the Maple Leafs -- erupted for six goals in a 6-2 win over their rivals.

Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic each had a goal and two assists; Andrew Ference had three assists and Nathan Horton had a goal and an assist as the Bruins bounced back from their 4-1 loss to Carolina on Tuesday.

Chara, Ference and defense creating offense  There has been a heavy emphasis in practice lately on the defense jumping into the offense, and that showed Thursday night. Zdeno Chara had a goal and two assists; Andrew Ference had three helpers and Steven Kampfer had an assist. The Bruins' blue line is doing a great job of knowing when to pinch and getting those first outlet passes through the neutral zone, and Thursday night it started to pay off.

• Read more postgame analysis from ESPN Boston.

LeBrun's preview: Too good to last for Kessel, Leafs?

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL's leading scorer invade Beantown on Thursday night.

Yeah, you probably had to read that sentence twice to make sure we didn't make it up.

Given that no Maple Leafs player has won the NHL scoring title since Gordie Drillon in 1937-38, well, it bears mentioning that even if it only lasts for a day or two, Phil Kessel tops the circuit with 12 points (7-5) in five games.

And it just so happens he returns to his former stomping grounds Thursday completely en fuego, as his three-point (1-2) night Wednesday led the 4-0-1 Maple Leafs to a 4-3 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets.

The thing is, the whole Boston trade talk has gotten old for Kessel.

"Yeah, it gets old when you guys ask all the time," Kessel said after Wednesday night's victory. "You know, it was a couple of years ago. I don't get jitters anymore."

Leafs GM Brian Burke had a feeling before this season started that Kessel would have a huge year; so far, he's been dead on.

"He's been awesome, helping on all 200 feet of the ice," Burke told ESPN.com on Wednesday night.

Kessel, who has a plus-7 rating, has found chemistry with Joffrey Lupul. That was brilliantly displayed when Kessel dished the puck across the slot to Lupul for Toronto's opening goal Wednesday.

"Right now, we're clicking," Kessel said. "We're finding each other out there."

But it's never quite clicked against Boston for Kessel, who has only two goals in 12 games against his former team. Still, his current form is the best he has displayed in his young career.

The Bruins are certainly not sweating the Kessel deal. Never have, never will. The two first-round draft picks, including the one they turned into Tyler Seguin, were well worth it. And they've got a Stanley Cup banner from June hanging in the rafters to remind them what really matters. But it just so happens the B's could use some of Kessel's offensive magic at the moment.

The 2-4-0 Bruins haven't exactly been awful, but they just can't score. They're last in the NHL in goals per game, and that has really sank them on nights when the chances have been there, but the finish has not.

"I've been OK with our effort the last two games," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told ESPN.com over the phone Wednesday. "We have to be sharper on finishing our chances. We're getting a lot of chances. We also have to be more focused. There's been a pattern for us this year that we don't capitalize on our chances and we kind of revert to a mild game. We have to focus and concentrate a little better."

But still, last in the league in goals per game?

"We're missing the net a lot, we're shooting in the center of the net; we have the personnel to finish, but we have to be sharper," Chiarelli said.

The overall concern is the much-ballyhooed Cup hangover is doing its thing again. Just ask Chicago.

"My research over the summer suggested that it would manifest itself in some way," the Bruins GM said. "If this is it … we're trying to deal with it. We're trying to be positive. We're trying to motivate the guys and approach it from a whole bunch of different angles. You worry that you talk about it so much that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it's here and you have to deal with it."

The Bruins' frustration boiled over Tuesday night in an ill-advised roughing up of the Carolina Hurricanes, and their undisciplined play only contributed to another loss.

"I know people look for turning points all the time," Chiarelli said. "But I don't know. To me, it was born out of frustration. I hope they got it out of their system."

Boston will face Toronto's backup netminder, as Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson gets his first start of the season Thursday night. Toronto will be without winger Colby Armstrong, who suffered a lower-body injury in Wednesday's game and will miss some time (the Leafs called up Nazem Kadri on Thursday morning). Clarke MacArthur also left Wednesday's game; Toronto coach Ron Wilson said the forward was banged up but would at least make the trip to Boston, which doesn't necessarily mean he'll play.

For the Leafs, meanwhile, it's their first road game of the season after an excellent homestand in which they netted nine out of a possible 10 points. But no one is feeling too giddy around these parts just yet. Leafs fans remember all too well last season's 4-0-0 start, which was followed by a 1-8-3 collapse in the next 12 games.

The Maple Leafs begin a four-game road trip in Boston with other stops in Montreal, Philadelphia and New York against the Rangers. We'll know more about them after that.

The Bruins? They just want to get back to where they were this past spring.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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