Bruins 5, Maple Leafs 4, (OT)

Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins, their season apparently over early in the third period, came all the way back from a 4-1 deficit and eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs with a stunning 5-4 overtime victory in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference first-round series Monday night.
Patrice Bergeron, the classy center who had just one point -- a goal -- in almost seven full games, set up a goal with 1:22 left in regulation, forced the OT with 50.2 seconds on the clock and then scored 6:05 into overtime to finish off the comeback.
Bergeron beat James Reimer on a scramble after both teams had OT chances, thus ending the first playoff series between the Original Six franchises since 1974 -- and ending Toronto's first playoff visit since 2004.
The Bruins will play the winner of the New York Rangers-Washington Capitals series, who played a Game 7 on Monday night.
Boston got a goal from Nathan Horton with 10:42 left and then saved the best for last. With Tuukka Rask pulled for an extra attacker, Milan Lucic scored with 1:22 left and then Patrice Bergeron, who assisted on the Lucic goal, scored through a Zdeno Chara screen to tie the game.
The Bruins actually had a chance to win in the closing seconds but the game moved on to overtime.
The noise never died down during the intermission prior to the overtime. Security reported hundreds of people who had left thinking the Bruins' season was over were trying to re-enter TD Garden.
The fourth-seeded Bruins had charter plane trouble and didn't return to Boston until Monday morning and then were outplayed for most of the game.
They woke up just in time to advance to the next round.
Defenseman Cody Franson, whose giveaway led to rookie defenseman Matt Bartkowski giving the Bruins a 1-0 first-period lead, scored Toronto's first and second goals before former Bruin Phil Kessel and Nasem Kadri both had a goal and an assist to break the game open early in the third.
Kessel, whose trade to Toronto brought the Bruins Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, came into this series with three goals against his former team. He had four in this series.
Seguin didn't have a point until the series winner, while Brad Marchand, Boston's top goal scorer in the regular season (Seguin was second) also failed to score a goal, but also assisted on the Bergeron goal.
James van Riemsdyk added two assists, giving him seven points in the series.
The Leafs played the last two games without injured top center Tyler Bozak.
The Bruins, already without injured defenseman Andrew Ference (reportedly on crutches with a foot injury), also scratched Wade Redden (unclear if healthy or not but did play Sunday). They dressed rookies Bartkowski and Hamilton. Then, Dennis Seidenberg went down early with a leg injury, dropping the defense down to five.
Seidenberg tried to go in the second period but couldn't and wasn't on the bench for the third. He was clearly missed.
Anyone who thought Bruins coach Claude Julien would stand pat for Game 7 was wrong, as slumping Seguin was dropped off the line with Bergeron and Marchand and was replaced by Jaromir Jagr. Seguin was moved down a line.
The action was heavy in the early minutes, with the Bruins killing an early penalty and then taking a 1-0 lead at 5:39. Toronto's Franson went between his legs on the backhand trying to clear. The puck went right to Bartkowski, who moved in and scored from the high slot.
Boston was killing another penalty, this one to Zdeno Chara, when the Maple Leafs scored. Near the end of the power play, a scramble around goalie Rask saw the puck squirt free, and Franson slid his second goal of the series (to go with three assists) into an empty net at 9:35.
The first period ended 1-1, and Toronto took a 2-1 lead at 5:48 of the second. Hustle by Clarke MacArthur got the puck to Mikhail Grabovski, who sent it out to the point. Franson wound up and fired, beating a screened Rask.
NOTES: Tyler Bozak, who also missed Game 6, didn't make the trip to Boston with the Leafs. Joe Colborne, a former first-round Bruins draft pick, caught some heat from coach Randy Carlyle for admitting to the media he knew about his covered-up playoff debut in Game 6. It was about subterfuge with Bozak hurting, to the point where an injured Bozak came out for warmups and didn't do anything. Said Carlyle, when told his young player blabbed: "He's going to learn to shut his ... when the coach has something to say, he'll say it." ... Eight of the 11 Bruins playoff series under Julien have gone seven games. ... In Games 4, 5 and 6, the Leafs led for 77 minutes, nine seconds, the Bruins for just 44 seconds. ... The Maple Leafs came in 12-9 all-time in seventh games, while the Bruins were 12-11 ... Toronto led the all-time playoff games ledger with Boston, 34-33-1, including 18-17 in Boston. This was the third all-time seventh games between the two Original Six teams. ... The Bruins, the older of these two teams, were playing their 13th game in 24 days. ... Rask and Reimer both entered the finale with .932 save percentages, while Rask had a 2.28 goals against average, Reimer a 2.58. ... Jarrod Clowery, injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, was the Bruins' pre-game honorary banner captain.

What to Read Next