BOSTON -- The results weren't there, but Claude Julien insisted he liked the way his Bruins were playing in the final games of the regular season. All that was missing, the coach said, was the scoring.
In the Stanley Cup playoff opener Wednesday night, the scoring arrived at the right time.
"There were some signs the last four games or so, we seemed to be turning the corner," Julien said after a 4-1 victory that gave the Bruins the jump on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Original Six matchup. "We were playing better. We weren't getting rewarded with the wins."
The Bruins, the Cup champions two years ago before going out in the first round last year, poured four goals past a shaky James Reimer over a span of 19:24 over the first and second periods and took the lead in a series that resumes Saturday night in Boston.
"After last game, we'd played a good game, it's playoffs and everything is that much more important. If you miss an opportunity, it could mean the difference between going home and staying in," defenseman Johnny Boychuk said after scoring the fourth goal of what turned out to be an easy win.
"The last three games beforehand, we were playing a lot more physical, more of a playoff kind of game and ... you just have to make sure that when you're in playoffs you have to be that much more focused, and I think that was the key tonight."
After going 2-5-2 over the last nine games of the regular season, averaging two goals per game and surrendering the Northeast Division title, the Bruins settled for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. In Game 1 of the postseason, they clearly outclassed the No. 5 Leafs, making their first playoff appearance since 2004.
David Krejci, who saves his best for playoffs, scored one goal and assisted on two others. He has 50 points in 60 playoff games.
"He's such a great player," said Boychuk, who scored off a nifty pass from Krejci. "He did that a couple times tonight and finally I got to bury one. I just feel fortunate to finally put one in the net for him.
"He's obviously one of the better players in the league."
Said Krejci: "We took it as a new season."
Reclamation project Wade Redden had a goal and an assist, and Milan Lucic had two assists in front of goalie Tuukka Rask, who broke a personal four-game playoff losing streak (dating back to four defeats against Philadelphia in 2010). It was Rask's first playoff appearance since that stunning loss to the Flyers, when the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead.
Redden, playing in his 102nd playoff game, was in the lineup replacing 19-year-old healthy scratch Dougie Hamilton.
"I was really happy for him," said Julien, who talked after the morning skate about what Redden has been through to get to this point.
Redden, exiled to the minors by the New York Rangers for two years because of his meaty contract and poor play, signed with the St. Louis Blues before being traded to Boston at the deadline. The goal was his first in the playoffs since 2007.
"It was fun to be back out there, that's for sure," Redden said. "I said before, I'm going to try to get the most out of it. I've been away for a while, so it was good to get back in there."
Nathan Horton, who missed the last five games of the regular season with an upper-body injury, also scored for the Bruins, who made life fairly easy for Rask as Boston outshot Toronto 40-20.
James van Riemsdyk gave the Leafs an early lead with a power-play goal, and that was it for the Toronto offense. The Bruins, scoring four goals for the first time in 10 games, moved to 4-1 against the Leafs this season.
Reimer rebounded in the third period to make 14 saves (and the Bruins had a goal waved off), but it was too little, too late.
"We didn't play our game," said former Bruin Phil Kessel. "We turned over the puck too much in critical areas, and that's not our game. They fed off it. We just didn't play well tonight."
Kessel, traded by the Bruins in the deal that brought Tyler Seguin and Hamilton to Boston, was again ineffective against his old team, with only one harmless shot on goal. In 23 games against the Bruins, he has three goals and nine points and is a minus-22. He still gets booed by TD Garden fans every time he touches the puck, and the crowd broke into taunting chants of "Kes-sel, Kes-sel" in the third period.
"We are going to practice tomorrow and try and work on things," Kessel said. "Just improve. Hopefully, this is a long series and it's only Game 1."
NOTES: Rask sported a State Police hat after the game, saying, "I'm working on my speeding tickets." ... The franchises last met in a playoff series in 1974, and the Leafs haven't beaten Boston since 1959. ... The Bruins came in with a roster loaded with 1,273 games of playoff experience; Toronto had 206 games of postseason experience. The Bruins had 22 Cup rings (17 of the players around two years ago), the Leafs none. ... Boston is 27-6-5 in its last 38 games against Toronto, 12-1-1 in the last 14 at TD Garden. ... Kessel had 15 points in 15 playoff games with the Bruins. ... Patriots owner Robert Kraft was in the crowd, waving a "rally towel" on the video board just before Boychuk's goal. ... Toronto got Tyler Bozak back after he missed the last two games of the regular season with an upper-body injury. ... Rich Peverley, who had 12 points in 25 games during the Bruins' Cup run in 2011, was a healthy scratch.