TORONTO -- Phil Kessel couldn't have scripted it any better.
The former first-round pick of the Bruins had the game-winning goal and was a plus-2 as the Toronto Maple Leafs hung on for a 2-1 win over Boston Sunday night to force a seventh and deciding game Monday at the TD Garden.
With the Leafs already leading 1-0, Kessel made it 2-0 at 8:59 of the third period when he picked up the rebound off a Cody Franson point shot, which Tuukka Rask had trouble with, and backhanded it in.
The best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal is now tied 3-3.
The winner of the series moves on to play either the Washington Capitals or New York Rangers, who play Game 7 of their series Monday in Washington.
Sunday was Toronto's first home playoff win since April 30, 2004, and it was Boston's first road playoff loss in Toronto since 1959.
Dion Phaneuf opened the scoring in the third period for Toronto. Milan Lucic had the lone goal for the Bruins with 26 seconds remaining.
"I'm just playing the game and hopefully things happen, and it's been going all right right now," said Kessel, who is now tied with James van Riemsdyk for the team-lead with three goals.
Following the goal, the 19,591 in attendance at the Air Canada Centre began chanting "Thank you Seguin" directed at the Bruins' Tyle Seguin and mocking Bruins fans who've restlessly chanted "Thank you Phil" in previous Bruins-Maple Leafs games at the garden.
Kessel chose the high road when asked if he heard the fans.
"I'm not even going to talk about it. I think that's over with now," he said of the Kessel-Seguin storyline.
In September 2009, Kessel was dealt from the Bruins to the Leafs for two first-round picks and a second-round pick. Those picks produced current Bruins Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.
Seguin has no points through the first six games of the series, while Hamilton has dressed in just two games. Kessel, meanwhile, has four points in the series.
"It was a little bit funny obviously," said van Riemsdyk of the chants from the fans. "I'm sure Phil's gotten some heat over the years in Boston. He's been one of the top scorers over his time in Toronto, and we love having him on our team. We're happy he's here and he's done a great job in the playoffs."
Lucic pulled Boston to within one by redirecting a Jaromir Jagr pass past James Reimer for his first goal of the playoffs with 26 seconds remaining.
The play began with Patrice Bergeron winning a face-off following an icing call. Boston, as it has all series, continued to dominate in the face-off circle, winning 67 percent of draws Sunday, led by Chris Kelly, who went 11 of 14.
"I didn't think our puck management was very good," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "That sometimes means being strong on the puck, making the right plays, shooting versus over-passing. I didn't think it was very good, and as I said to our players after the game, we've been a Jekyll and Hyde hockey team all year. That's what you're seeing right now."
Added Bergeron in response to Julien's comments, "We've been up and down, and tomorrow we're going to make sure we're bringing our best game."
Reimer made 30 saves for his third career playoff victory, falling just 26 seconds shy of his first career playoff shutout.
Phaneuf opened the scoring 1:48 into the third period by redirecting a Nazem Kadri shot past Rask for his first goal of the series.
"I thought we played, start to finish, solid," said Phaneuf, who was ridiculed for his pinch on the game-winning goal in Game 4. "We played the way we wanted to play, but we know we've got to learn from a few things too. Overall we feel good about the way that we played and now we refocus for Monday."
Toronto is 6-14 all time in best-of-seven series in which they have trailed 3-2, and it's 1-13 after trailing 3-1. The Leafs last came back from down 3-2 to win a series during the 2002 Eastern Conference semifinal against Ottawa.
Things opened up in the second period with both teams hitting the post early. Joe Colborne got a shot behind Rask, but it hit the iron.
Moments later, Johnny Boychuk's wrist shot from the point beat Reimer, but hit the post.
Four minutes into the middle period, Bergeron had an excellent chance to open the scoring with Reimer out of position, but Reimer got over to rob Bergeron with his paddle on a wrap-around.
Both teams played a tentative first period with the Bruins outshooting Toronto 8-7. The Bruins had two opportunities with the man advantage, but mustered just a single shot on goal.
Toronto had an opportunity with the man advantage as well and directed three shots on goal, but the power play was ended early as van Riemsdyk took a goalie interference penalty.
NOTES: Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak, who led all Toronto forwards with an average of 21:27 of ice time through five games, was a late scratch with an undisclosed injury and replaced by Colborne. Sunday was Colborne's 17th career NHL game. ... Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference did not make the trip to Toronto and is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. ... Boston blue liner Wade Redden returned to the lineup Sunday after missing Game 5 with an undisclosed injury. Redden entered Sunday a point shy of 50 career playoff points. ... This is the first time since 1974 these two original six franchises are meeting in the postseason. Boston swept Toronto in the first round of the opening round in 1974. ... Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Fraser (head) missed his second straight game. ... Jagr entered Sunday's game five points shy of Paul Coffey for fifth place on the all-time playoff points list (196). Jagr is also the active leader in playoff goals (78).