Three years ago Tuesday, the Boston Bruins completed a 3-0 series collapse by blowing a 3-0 first period lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in a Game 7. Three years later, they were on the other end of an dramatic, in-game comeback to save themselves from another series collapse.
Patrice Bergeron's goal 6:05 into overtime finished off the Bruins' turnaround and ended the Toronto Maple Leafs' season, giving Boston a 5-4 win in Game 7.
The Bruins will move on to the second round to face the New York Rangers.
When Nazem Kadri scored his first playoff goal 5:29 into the third period, the Maple Leafs held a 4-1 lead. Toronto had taken advantage of a flat Boston team and were on their way to a series victory.
It was then that the desperation finally set in for the Bruins.
Nathan Horton scored four minutes after Kadri to cut the Toronto lead to 4-2. Then, with Tuukka Rask on the bench for the extra attacker late in the third period, Milan Lucic and Bergeron scored in a 31-second span to force overtime.
The once flatlining Bruins found new life and, having played in five Game 7s in their last six playoff series, there would be no nerves on their end.
"We've been there before. We just relied on our experience to do the job," Bergeron told NBC Sports Network's Brian Engblom afterward.
The experience showed in the overtime. Boston outshot Toronto 5-2 and were powered by a second wind (that could be mistaken for a first wind given how they played through the opening 50 minutes of the game). On the overtime goal, the Bruins controlled the puck, with Bergeron moving throughout the Maple Leafs' zone unmarked before he put home the winner.
The Maple Leafs will feel the sting from this loss for a long time. They let the game, and the series, slip from their grasps. But young, developing teams learn from tough losses. The Bruins learned from their Game 7 collapse in 2010 and went on to win the Stanley Cup the next year.
It remains to be seen if there will be any Cup dreams in Toronto a year from now. For the moment, it'll only be Bergeron nightmares.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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