Fans who stayed got quite a treat

BOSTON -- Midway through the third period of Game 7 between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins were trailing 4-1 and there were many empty seats at TD Garden.

But when the Bruins’ Nathan Horton scored at 9:18 to cut Boston’s deficit to two goals, there was a change of atmosphere in the building. What appeared to be a lost cause, a season-ending loss for the Bruins, turned into one of the greatest comebacks in Stanley Cup playoff history as Boston finished with a 5-4 overtime win.

Those who remained of the 17,565 fans in attendance created bedlam and the Garden press box was actually shaking with the noise. Before the third-period comeback began, the Bruins players noticed the empty seats and some said it served as motivation. The people who stayed received a rare hockey treat.

“It’s great. We won a couple of years ago, I don’t like to talk about it because it was a long time ago, but I like to talk about the atmosphere, the energy was something great,” David Krejci said. “Everybody thought we were done midway through the third, and I know some people were leaving and we don’t need those people to come back. After we tied the game, or we got the third goal, the people who stayed, it was just unbelievable. It was one of the greatest feelings.”

When Patrice Bergeron scored the tying goal at 19:09 of the third period, fans began to throw their gold rally towels onto the ice, at which point Brad Marchand skated over to the glass and signaled for the fans to keep doing it, waving them on like third base Brian Butterfield waving Jacoby Ellsbury home, in order to give the Bruins a little more rest as the bull gang cleared the towels off the ice.

It was a big assist from the fans.

“It was big,” Marchand said. “Obviously we were all very tired, especially for the guys on the ice and that little break helped.”