May 13, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: B's make miracles happen in Game 7

By Jesse Connolly

Patrice Bergeron (center) celebrates his overtime goal in Game 7. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 5, Toronto 4 (OT)

Recap: After a fast-paced, ferocious start to the game, the Bruins got the first goal of the game from young d-man Matt Bartkowski. Boston's lead lasted less than four minutes, however, as Cody Franson -- who turned the puck over to Bartkowski on the game's first goal -- slammed home a loose puck in the crease on a Toronto power play to make it 1-1.

From there, the Bruins' play simply plummeted. During one 14-minute stretch, the B's had just two shots on goal -- both coming from Gregory Campbell. In the midst of that futility, Franson struck again to make it 2-1 in favor of the Leafs.

In the third, Phil Kessel scored an insurance marker and Nazem Kadri put the nail in the coffin with a goal at the 5:29 mark. Well, that's at least what we thought. 

Nathan Horton made it a 4-2 game midway through the third, but Boston couldn't get anything past Reimer for the next nine-or-so minutes. With Rask pulled, Lucic made it a one-goal game with 1:22 to go. The building exploded 30 seconds later when Patrice Bergeron tied things up with 51 seconds left in regulation.

Tuukka Rask made a tremendous stick save on Joffrey Lupul in overtime before Bergeron buried a loose puck 6:05 into the extra session, setting off utter bedlam in TD Garden as the Bruins celebrated the series-winning goal.

Series: Bruins win 4-3

Playoff Records: Boston 4-3; Toronto 3-4

Key Play of the Game: The game-winning goal is as obvious as it gets, so we'll look back at the tying tally. The Bruins did a phenomenal job of getting the Leafs running around as they moved the puck around the offensive zone. David Krejci fed Bergeron out near the center of the blue line, and No. 37 did a dynamite job of faking out Nik Kulemin and making his shooting lane clear before ripping one past Reimer.

Connolly's Commendations: Boy did "Bergy" pick the ultimate time to finally really flourish in the series. While the B's multitalented pivot has contributed in other ways throughout the series, his heroics in the clutch erase any offensive shortcomings he might've had in the first six games.

Big Z also, for all intents and purposes, put the team on his back. Chara was all over the puck down low in the offensive zone and his crucial screens in the closing minutes paid huge dividends. 

Looks like we've seen the full return of the "old Looch" in this series. Lucic provided the big goal to make it a 4-3 game and wound up with 2-7-9 totals in the seven-game set.

Kudos to Matt Bartkowski, who went from playing 6:40 in Game 5 to being scratched in Game 6 to playing 24:51 in Game 7, playing a huge role in making up for the absence of Dennis Seidenberg.

Connolly's Critiques: Boy was this section going to be a lot bulkier until the B's launched their historic comeback. Because of it, anyone who played not-so-hot hockey is off the hook. Even Dougie Hamilton, who was shaky almost every time he touched the puck. 

Notes: Dennis Seidenberg saw just 37 seconds of ice time before leaving the game (and remaining on the bench) with an apparent leg injury. Tyler Seguin earned his first point of the series with an assist on the game-winner. Bergeron had a game-high six shots and won 16-of-22 faceoffs. 

Final Thoughts: How could words ever do a once-in-a-lifetime comeback like that justice? They can't. Every effort I make would be futile. But, I've gotta try. The Bruins were dead in the water, putting on their worst postseason performance quite possibly in team history, bound for a disgraceful exit from the postseason. But they somehow resuscitated themselves and wound up winning arguably the craziest playoff game in NHL history.

Next: The Bruins will play host to the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the conference semifinals on Thursday night at 7:30.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ