Bruins Complete Epic Comeback; Eliminate the Leafs

Game 7 Recap (Bruins win series 4-3)

The Boston Bruins completed the comeback of all comebacks Monday night at TD Garden in. Boston amazingly rallied from three goals down in the third period, ultimately eliminating the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime, 5-4. Four unanswered scorers propelled the Bruins into the Eastern Conference Semi-finals, setting up a date with the New York Rangers.

Already playing without Andrew Ference and Wade Redden, Boston suffered a frightening blow early on, losing Dennis Seidenberg for the game after his leg buckled awkwardly along the boards. Seidenberg logged just 0:37 of ice time on two shifts.

This game was seesaw affair, with action tilting back-and-forth for much of the opening two periods. Toronto took a stranglehold over the Bruins in the third, scoring twice, making it four straight on the Bruins, giving them a 4-1 lead.

Boston looked lifeless, helpless, and left for dead. It seemed as if the Leafs would be bouncing the B’s from the playoffs, giving way to an off season of uncertainty and doubt. Thousands began to file out of the Garden, hanging their head in disgust and shame.

To the dismay of Toronto and to the shock of Bruins fans far and wide, the Black-and-Gold executed one of the most brilliant, odds-defying, late game rallies in NHL playoff history. Claude Julien’s group never panicked, believed in one another, and found a way to tie things up.

With Tuukka Rask pulled, Boston was set to embrace defeat. Instead they scored twice in the final 47 seconds to force overtime with Rask watching from the bench. They did the improbable, stunned Toronto and rewarded those who stuck around to witness it with quite a treat.

The overtime was shades of 2011 all over again. Boston exploited a reeling Leafs team, still in disbelief from their regulation debacle and went on to complete an unprecedented comeback, taking the series in extra time.

The Black-and-Gold became the first team in NHL history to win a playoff game after trialing by three or more goals in the third period.

Game Summary:

Matt Bartkowski potted his first career playoff goal, unassisted at 5:39 of the first period, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead. It was a direct result of Milan Lucic bearing down on the Toronto defense, as he was able to squirt the puck loose and it fell right to Bartkowski who fired a blistering shot by Reimer.

The Leafs and Bruins traded menacing checks, banging each other around at every opportunity. The B’s would not hold the lead for long. Cody Franson scored his first of two tallies on the night at 9:35 of the first, tying play up at 1-1.

Then it was Franson scoring again in the second frame at 5:48, giving Toronto a 2-1 advantage. The Leafs would carry that lead into third and then built upon it, burying the Bruins into what looked like an insurmountable hole.

With Seidenberrg sidelined all the Boston defensemen stepped up, logging some series minutes. Zdeno Chara led the way with 35:46 TOI, followed by Johnny Boychuk who registered 28:30 TOI.

In the third, Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri scored back-to-back goals that all but iced the contest and deflated the TD Garden. Boston did not get down on themselves, stayed focused on the task at hand, and brought new meaning to the phrase, “it’s not over until it’s over” in doing so.

Nathan Horton started off the epic Boston rally, roofing a beautiful pass from Milan Lucic, cutting into the lead. Down 4-2, the B’s all of a sudden had some hope. It was evident Milan Lucic was fired up and was determined to keep the season alive, inspiring his team and putting them on his back down the stretch. The winger kept things moving, keeping things simples, while making big plays under immense pressure.

Tuukka Rask saved the Boston season when he robbed Matt Frattin on a breakaway bid. Rask pushed from post to post in order kick away Frattin’s deke attempt. Simply put, if Toronto had scored there no comeback happens.

Then the Bruins pulled off a miracle sequence of events, notching two goals with an extra attacker on the ice. Milan Lucic got it started, banging home a Chara rebound at 18:38 of the final period. Now, only trailing by one, the Garden erupted with excitement. The pulse had returned and the Bruins believed. Patrice Bergeron brought the game full circle, completing the unthinkable, drawing things even.

Bergeron blasted a bomb from the point that found its way through and past James Reimer. It seemed surreal, many had written the Bruins off, but overtime would suddenly be needed to settle a masterpiece of a series.

Life was sucked from the Leafs and their emotions were drained from the shocking turnaround. Toronto didn’t even know what hit them and in overtime, experience trumped. Boston channeled its emotions, kept things in perspective, and capped off a dreamlike game 7 in storybook fashion.

It was only fitting Patrice Bergeron netted the sudden death winner. Bergeron had been battling all series with the hopes of finding his game. He had felt his line had been letting the team down but he more than made amends for it. His goal will be forever remembered as it lifted the Bruins, allowing them to fight another day.

What Went Right:

The Bruins showed limitless heart in their astonishing come from behind series clinching win. Down by three goals in third period, it would have been easy to pack it in, face the music, and go home. Instead Boston exhibited the mark of a champion, rolling with the punches, hanging tough until the final horn. Their relentless play and dedication ultimately paid off. This club was not ready for a post-season exit and clearly there are still bigger things on the agenda.

Boston’s top guns fired away, leading the charge in the third period and overtime. Milan Lucic proved why he is considered a franchise player. His work alone opened the door for a late surge. Playing with fearless intensity, Lucic inspired everyone on the ice to step their game up a few clicks. Nathan Horton came through in the clutch like he so often done in the past. Patrice Bergeron snapped out of a funk in a big way, factoring in on the final three Bruins goals.

Hopefully the Bruins offensive onslaught late game 7 can provide them with the confidence needed to succeed moving forward.

Zdeno Chara was incredible. The Boston captain logged over 35-minutes and played a vital role in slowing down the Leafs top scorers. Tuukka Rask was the difference. Rask made a number of game saving saves along the way that ultimately gave the Bruins the boost needed to overcome Toronto.

Three Stars:

*Patrice Bergeron – 2 goals, 1 assist

**Milan Lucic – 1 goal, 1 assist

***Zdeno Chara – 1 assist, 35:46 TOI

Quotes of the Night:

Milan Lucic on the game 7 win: “Anything can happen and that’s exactly what happened.”

Claude Julien: “They had us on the ropes and we’re glad we’re done with them. Drained is obviously the key word. The emotions of this game had us going in all directions.”

What’s Up Next?

An Eastern Conference Semi-Finals matchup with the New York Rangers begins Thursday night at 7:30 PM.

Frank O’Laughlin – NHL Contributor – TitleTown Sports

 

 

 

 

 

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