For two and a half periods it looked like the Bruins were well on their way to another first round playoff exit and another epic choke job under the watch of Claude Julien, but the Bruins then flipped that switch everyone has been talking about and turned the tables on the Maple Leafs in a historic way.
Down 4-1 midway through the third period, the Bruins got three goals in the final 10:42 to force a winner-take-all overtime in Game 7 thanks to Patrice Bergeron’s tying tally with 59 seconds to go in regulation.
With overtime just over six minutes old, Bergeron once again played the role of hero as he once again beat Reimer to send the Bruins onto the second round and helped the Bruins avoid another rough first round playoff ending.
The Bruins came out on absolute fire in the opening minutes of the game as their hard work paid off early on when Matt Bartkowski’s first career National Hockey League goal put the Bruins up 1-0.
The Maple Leafs would answer the Bartkowski goal with four unanswered goals, stretched out over three periods.
In a 4-1 hole, late in the game, in a do-or-die situation, the Bruins didn’t panic; they got aggressive and turned things around in a way no one will forget.
“That was unbelievable” said defensemen Johnny Boychuk.
“That’s one thing you’re going to remember probably for the rest of your life, because it was such a comeback that everybody probably thought that we were done and showed what kind of character there is in this dressing. Never say die, more or less.”
One may look at the score and see the Leafs scored four times on Tuukka Rask, but anyone who watched the game knows that Rask was stellar, again, between the pipes for the Bruins and made some big saves which allowed the Bruins to get back in, and eventually win the game.
The Bruins had to play Game 7 shorthanded from pretty much the start of the game as Dennis Seidenberg saw just 37 seconds of ice time due to an undisclosed injury.
“We’ll know better tomorrow whether it’s a short-term, or long-term” said Julien in regards to the status of Seidenberg.
Young guys like Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton did a great job shouldering the load with Seidenberg out of action.
“Bart [Matt Bartkowski] steps up and gets a huge goal for us here, and it’s his first goal in the NHL and it ends up being a big one in a Game 7, and when three defensemen go down like you talk about you need guys to step up, and as a five man unit there for two periods they really stepped up and played well for us, especially with Bart and Dougie [Hamilton] who don’t have much playoff experience. They were able to step up for us, and we talk about all the time, we’re a team that relies on everyone and everyone needs to be pulling their weight” said Milan Lucic who had a goal and an assist in Game 7.
Down by three in the third, it would have been easy for the Bruins to pack it in and lick their wounds, but the Bruins said enough was enough and decided to show some resiliency. One simple comeback could be just enough to give the Bruins the confidence they will need heading into the second round.
“It’s huge. You look at Game 7 a couple of years ago against Montreal. Being down 2-0 and coming back, winning Game 7 in overtime. It really gives your team a lot of confidence. It gives them the opportunity to know that we can carry this thing a long way” said Brad Marchand.
“Obviously, we’ve got a great team in here, but there’s a lot of great teams in this league. We got to make sure we’re prepared for the next battle. “ The Bruins will open up the Eastern Conference Semifinals Thursday when they host the New York Rangers.