The Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) is congratulated by teammates after his game-tying goal in the final minute of the third period, forcing overtime where he scored the game-winner in a 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the teams' Eastern Conference quarter-final Monday evening in Boston. The Bruins will advance to meet the New York Rangers in the conference semifinals starting Thursday night. For more on the NHL playoffs, see pages C2 and C3.
BOSTON - Patrice Bergeron scored at 6:05 of overtime to complete a miraculous Boston comeback as the Bruins rallied to oust the Toronto Maple Leafs from the playoffs with a nail-biting 5-4 victory in Game 7 Monday night.
Bergeron, with his second of the night, ended it as the Bruins blitzed the Toronto goal. The Leafs could not clear the puck and the Bruins forward snapped home a shot.
Two late goals in the space of 31 seconds by Boston's Milan Lucic and Bergeron, with goalie Tuukka Rask off for the extra attacker, shockingly tied the game up at 4-4.
It had looked like two early goals by defenceman Cody Franson had been enough to propel Toronto into the next round of the playoffs. The Leafs led 4-1 midway through the third period when the Bruins started pulling rabbits out of their hat with three unanswered goals - the last two with the clock running out.
It marked the first time the Bruins have come back from a three-goal deficit in a playoff game since April 11, 1990, when they trailed the Hartford Whalers by a 5-2 score in the third period but went on to win 6-5.
Leading 2-1 entering the third period, Phil Kessel added an insurance goal at 2:09, poking in the puck into a gaping goal after Nazem Kadri hit the post. Kessel's fourth goal of the post-season was helped by a Bruins giveaway.
Kadri then scored on a two-one-one, banging home Kessel's rebound at 5:29 to seemingly hammer another nail in the Boston coffin.
At the other end, James Reimer seemed to have got into the Bruins' heads until Nathan Horton swept in a pass from Lucic, who swooped behind the net and then got the puck through traffic to his linemate to cut the lead to 4-2 at 9:18.
That sparked a late flurry by the Bruins and Lucic, stuffing in the puck from in close, scored with 1:22 remaining. Then Bergeron beat Reimer with 51 seconds left as hulking Bruins captain Zdeno Chara screened the Toronto goalie.
The Boston roster held a huge edge in experience when it came to playing in a Game 7. Some 20 Bruins had already experienced a Game 7, with a combined total of 105 Game 7s between them.
As a franchise, the Bruins were 12-11 in Game 7s (11-7 on home ice) compared to 12-9 for Toronto (5-8 on the road).