BOSTON — Patrice Bergeron tied it with 51 seconds left in regulation then scored the game-winner 6:05 into overtime on Monday night to give Boston a 5-4 victory over the Maple Leafs in Game 7 as the Bruins turned back Toronto’s comeback with a rally of their own.
Tuukka Rask stopped 24 shots for Boston, which led the best-of-seven series 3-1 before the Maple Leafs won two in a row to force a seventh game.
Toronto opened a 4-1 lead in the third period of the decisive game, but Boston cut the deficit to two midway through the third period and then scored twice in the final 82 seconds to force overtime.
James Reimer made 30 saves for the Maple Leafs. Cody Franson scored twice, and former Bruin Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist for Toronto.
The Bruins will play the winner of Game 7 between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals. They would open at home against the Rangers and on the road vs. Washington.
The win completed a whipsaw of a weekend for Boston, which won Games 3 and 4 in Toronto last week to put the Maple Leafs on the brink of elimination, but failed to clinch at home on Friday and again in Game 6 when the series returned to the Air Canada Centre.
The Bruins found out during the game that their plane had mechanical difficulties, so they returned to their Toronto hotel and flew back to Boston on Monday morning, just hours before the game.
They appeared tired in the early part of the game, spotting Toronto a 4-1 lead on Nazem Kadri’s goal at 5:29 of the third period.
But Nathan Horton brought Boston within two goals and then Milan Lucic and Bergeron scored 31 seconds apart in the final 1:22 after the Bruins pulled Rask for an extra skater.
Bergeron ended it early in the overtime, sending his teammates pouring over the boards while the crowd fell into a frenzy.
Or, at least, those who stayed: Hundreds if not more had left in the third period, then begged security to get back into the TD Garden after the Bruins rallied.
Bergeron, who had only one goal in the first six games, had two goals and his first assist of the playoffs. Lucic had a goal — his second — and an assist, and Tyler Seguin had an assist for his first point of the postseason.
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead 5:39 into the game when Franson, against the boards in his own zone, flicked the puck back between his legs right to Matt Bartkowski.
But the Maple Leafs defenseman made up for it when he tied the score four minutes later, backhanding a loose puck into the net off a rebound.
Franson gave Toronto the lead at 5:48 of the second when, then Kessel made it 3-1 two minutes into the third when he tapped in a rebound in the crease. The announcement of Kessel’s name brought a chorus of boos from the Boston fans, who feel he never reached his potential after the Bruins picked him fifth overall in the 2006 draft.
But mostly the fans booed their own team before turning around late with chants of “Let’s Go Bruins!” and “U.S.A.!”
Notes: The only time Toronto won a series it trailed 3-1 was in the 1942 Stanley Cup finals against the Detroit Red Wings. The Maple Leafs actually lost the first three games then. ... Boston’s top regular-season goal scorers, Brad Marchand (18 goals), and Seguin (16), had no goals and just two assists before they both assisted on Bergeron’s game-winner. ... Rookie Boston defenseman Matt Bartkowski appeared in his second playoff game, replacing Wade Redden. Another Bruins defenseman, Andrew Ference, missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. Ference also missed Game 2 on a one-game suspension for hitting Mikhail Grabovski in the head in Game 1. ... Toronto wing James van Riemsdyk was on the Philadelphia team that came back from a 3-0 deficit against Boston in 2010.MORE IN Wire News
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