BOSTON -- The Bruins erased a 4-1 third-period deficit, with Patrice Bergeron scoring the tying goal with 51 seconds left, then winning it 6:05 into overtime as Boston pulled off an improbable 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs to clinch their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Nathan Horton cut the Leafs' lead to 4-2 9:18 into the third period. But it wasn't until the final two minutes that the Bruins really came alive as Milan Lucic scored with 1:22 left in regulation and Bergeron tied it with 51 ticks left to force overtime.
No quit in Bruins -- The Bruins surely can play better and with more consistency than they did in this series. At times they almost looked disinterested. But they showed in Game 7 that they are a proud bunch and didn't quit. That needs to be taken into account when assessing their chances going forward.
Bergeron leads way -- Patrice Bergeron is known in his dressing room and around the league as a great leader. The reigning Selke Trophy winner showed why again in Game 7. His game-tying goal (along with an assist on Lucic's goal) obviously showed that. But don't discount that even with his normal linemates Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand struggling, he has kept his game going and has been an effective presence on the ice and most likely off it as well.
Top line was the engine again -- They didn't exactly have their best game in Game 5 but other than that, the line of Lucic, David Krejci and Horton has been the engine that has driven the Bruins. They did it again in Game 7 as Lucic had a goal and an assist, Krejci had two helpers and Horton also scored. Horton now has four goals and three assists, Krejci has five goals and eight assists and Lucic has two goals and seven assists for the postseason.
Kessel comes back to haunt Bruins -- There were no "Thank you, Kessel" chants raining down from the TD Garden stands, but there were probably plenty on the streets of Toronto. Kessel burned his old team again with a goal and assist in Game 7 and finished the series with four goals and two assists. After being essentially shut down by the Bruins with just one goal in 23 games heading into this series, Kessel came alive at the right time and was superb.
Julien searches for spark -- With nothing clicking for the Bruins in the last two games, Claude Julien tried just about every trio he could up front and shuffled his defensive pairings as well. Julien also had to start double-shifting defensemen when Dennis Seidenberg suffered an undisclosed injury in the first period.
Redden and Ference out -- Knowing they would already be missing defenseman Andrew Ference before warmups, the Bruins got even more bad news on the blue line when it was determined that veteran rearguard Wade Redden could not go due to his lower body injury believed to be his ankle. That meant that both Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski, who had a combined three Stanley Cup playoffs games between them heading into Game 7, were in the lineup. The Seidenberg injury further hindered the Boston blue line.