Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron celebrates with teammate Zdeno Chara after scoring the overtime winner against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final hockey playoff series in Boston Monday night. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
A comeback for the ages
Bruins win Game 7 in overtime in epic comeback
Patrice Bergeron scored to the game-tying goal with 51 seconds left in regulation before flipping a loose puck over James Reimer 6:05 into overtime as host Boston rallied from a three-goal deficit to win Game 7 and advance to the Eastern Conference's second round.
Bergeron, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic scored in the final 10:42 of regulation and rookie defenseman Matt Bartkowski added his first career tally. Tuukka Rask turned aside 24 shots for the fourth-seeded Bruins, who won their first postseason series since winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. They will await the winner of the other first-round matchup pitting the sixth-seeded New York Rangers against the third-seeded Washington Capitals.
Defenseman Cody Franson recorded his first career two-goal game and Nazem Kadri and Phil Kessel traded goals 3:20 apart early in the third to give the fifth-seeded Maple Leafs a three-goal cushion. Reimer made 30 saves for Toronto, which saw its first playoff appearance in nine years come to an end after rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the series.
After Kessel put home a rebound and Kadri fired a loose puck into an open net on a 2-on-1 rush with Kessel, Horton cut the deficit to two midway through the third period and Lucic tallied off a rebound with Rask on the bench for the extra attacker. Bergeron fired a wrist shot from the point with Boston captain Zdeno Chara screening Reimer to knot the contest.
Bartkowski opened the scoring 5:39 into the contest when he intercepted an errant clearing attempt by Franson and fired a shot from the high slot that beat Reimer underneath his right arm. Franson atoned for his mistake on a power play 3:56 later when he pinched down from the point and slid a loose puck past Rask during a scramble and gave Toronto the lead after snapping a point shot around a screened Rask 5:48 into the second.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Bartkowski - a last-minute addition to the lineup replacing an injured Wade Redden - logged 24:51 of ice time. It was a significant increase from the 6:40 he played in his postseason debut. ... Boston C Chris Kelly elbowed Toronto LW James van Riemsdyk in the face late in the second period with both players tied up on the ice, bloodying the latter's nose and mouth. Van Riemsdyk remained in the game after receiving repairs on the bench. No penalty was called on the play. … Toronto rookie C Joe Colborne played his second career playoff game replacing C Tyler Bozak, who did not travel with the team to Boston. … The Bruins improved to 16-2 all-time when leading a series 3-1.