Are Boston Bruins going to blow it again? William Nylander, Maple Leafs force Game 7

Are the Boston Bruins going to blow it again?

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 2-1 in Game 6 Thursday night after a two-goal game by William Nylander, a strong defensive effort and an "unacceptable" start by Boston. Toronto ended a six-game home playoff losing streak to force a Game 7 in a first-round series that the Bruins had led three games to one.

Game 7 will be played Saturday in Boston (8 p.m. ET, ABC), with the winner advancing to face the Florida Panthers in the second round.

Nylander, who missed the first three games of the series, broke a scoreless tie at 19:05 of the second period when his shot deflected off Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and past goalie Jeremy Swayman. It was Nylander’s first goal in 14 games.

Nylander put the game away with a breakaway goal at 17:47 of the third period.

“It was nice to get on the board and scoring two goals, for sure,” he told reporters, “but I’m proud of our team effort. We battled and competed the entire 60. (Goalie Joseph Woll) was incredible for us as well.”

The script is starting to look like last season when the record-setting Bruins’ season came to a stunning end as the Panthers rallied to win after trailing the series three games to one. Boston has lost six consecutive potential clinching games dating to 2022.

But the Maple Leafs have had bad luck in Game 7s against the Bruins, losing in 2013, 2018 and 2019.

The Maple Leafs outshot the Bruins 12-1 in the first period of Game 6. It was the fewest shots allowed by Toronto in one period of a playoff game since 2004.

"It's unacceptable, our start again," Bruins coach Jim Montgomery told reporters. "We have to find a way to start on time. And we just got to be better."

The Bruins didn't get their second shot on goal until about seven minutes into the second period, but Boston's play picked up after it killed off a double minor to David Pastrnak.

They had another flurry in the third period, hitting the post, but couldn't get the puck past Woll until Morgan Geekie scored with 0.1 seconds left.

Woll, who played at Boston College, finished with 22 saves after getting 27 in Toronto's 2-1 overtime win in Game 5.

Toronto blocked 27 shots, won 63% of faceoffs and Boston had 17 turnovers.

“It gives me a lot of confidence back there when our group has been playing like that the past couple of games," said Woll, who has a 0.86 goals-against average and .964 save percentage since replacing Ilya Samsonov in Game 4. "Guys are laying out and blocking shots and coming up big in those moments."

Toronto star Auston Matthews sat out for a second consecutive game with what has been described as an illness. He also missed the third period of Game 4.

When does the second round of the NHL playoffs start?

The NHL announced the starting dates for the two Eastern Conference series in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Hurricanes-Rangers series will open in New York on Sunday, and the Maple Leafs-Bruins winner will visit the Panthers in Sunrise, Florida, on Monday.

Game 1 times and national broadcast information will be announced later.

Friday's NHL playoff games

Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators, 7 p.m. ET, TNT, truTV. Vancouver leads series 3-2

Dallas Stars at Vegas Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET, TNT, truTV. Dallas leads series 3-2

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL playoffs scores: Toronto Maple Leafs force Game 7 vs Boston Bruins