It wasn’t easy and, in fact, it looked next to impossible.
But the Boston Bruins have moved past the Toronto Maple Leafs and will now play the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs.
The Bruins were down three goals just before the midway point of the third period, but came storming back to beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime of Game 7 on Monday night.
The Rangers went into Washington and crushed the Capitals by a final score of 5-0 in Game 7, setting up an Original Six match-up with the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
The Bruins had a 1-0-2 record against the Rangers during the regular season.
The other second-round series in the East has the Pittsburgh Penguins, the top team in the conference, going up against the scrappy Ottawa Senators.
It looked like after nine years between postseason series, the Toronto Maple Leafs would stick around for a little bit longer. The Boston Bruins had other plans.
Maple Leafs blueliner Cody Franson scored twice, former Bruins forward Phil Kessel added his fourth marker of the series early in the third period, and 22-year-old Nazem Kadri gave Toronto a 4-1 lead.
But the Bruins surged with three unanswered goals in the final 10:42 minutes of regulation, including markers by Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron just 31 seconds apart in the dying minutes of the third period. Boston took that momentum into overtime and sent Toronto home.
Here are the talking points:
- Through 40 minutes, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara had already logged an unreal 22:10 minutes. The next highest on either team after two periods was Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf with 18:22 minutes. That’s partially due to the fact that Dennis Seidenberg suffered an undisclosed injury and was limited to 37 seconds. Chara went on to lead both teams with 35:46 minutes.
- The Boston Bruins absolutely dominated on the draw during this game with a 70% success rate.
- Bruins coach Claude Julien has been criticized lately for his reluctance to mix up his lines, but CSN New England noted that he did try swapping Tyler Seguin and Jaromir Jagr tonight.
- With three goals in this series, Franson scored more often than every Leafs player except for Kessel. Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul matched Franson’s three goals in this series.
- Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski scored a postseason goal for the first time in his NHL career. Kadri also found the back of the net for the first time in the playoffs.
Tonight promises to be a good one as a pair of do-or-die contests go in Boston and Washington.
The Leafs and Bruins will do battle at TD Garden, this after Toronto rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7.
At Verizon, the Caps and Rangers will meet in a Game 7 for the second consecutive year — last postseason, the two met in the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Rangers winning, 2-1.
In advance of both games, Brough and I broke down all the storylines and keys to the games.
Have a look, won’t you?
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Members of the Boston Bruins will spend Sunday night in Toronto, after their travel plans ran into a snag earlier in the evening.
“Late during tonight’s game we were made aware that there was a malfunction with our airplane. As a result we are staying in Toronto on Sunday night and the team will travel to Boston on Monday morning,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli in a brief statement on the team’s website.
The Bruins had a chance to close out the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6 of that Eastern Conference quarter-final Sunday evening, but gave up two third period goals and then couldn’t complete the comeback in a 2-1 loss, resulting in a seventh game.
Game 7 is scheduled for Monday evening.
Some believe that the Boston Bruins have been up-and-down for much of this season. After seeing his team’s 3-1 series lead disappear into a 3-3 tie, head coach Claude Julien couldn’t help but agree.
“As I said to our players after the game, we’ve been Jekyll & Hyde hockey club all year and that’s what we’re seeing right now, so I think it’s important for us to bring the good team to the table tomorrow for Game 7,” Julien said.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg hopes Monday’s effort won’t be monstrous.
“Well, we have to show the good side tomorrow night,” Seidenberg said.
It’s too bad Julien didn’t make a reference to “An American Werewolf in London” instead, but that would probably be asking for too much.
(On the other hand, Michael Caine.)