Overtime, 13:55, 5-4 Bruins: Unbelievable. The Boston Bruins, trailing 4-1 late in the third period, came all the way back, and they won it. A rebound bounced out to Patrice Bergeron, who buried his shot and instantly began leaping for joy. The Bruins piled over the boards to celebrate across the ice from their bench, and the Boston Bruins are moving on to the next round.
Where that game ranks among Boston’s all-time sports history will be determined at a later date, but there’s no doubt at all that it will stand among the very best.
Overtime, 17:06, 4-4: Good back-and-forth action, but it’s not as tense in here as you’d think. Confidence is everywhere, especially after Tuukka Rask made a dandy of a stick save on a one-time blast by Lupul.
Overtime, 20:00, 4-4: The turnaround of emotion in this building is unfathomable. The Bruins just took the ice with Baba O’Riley blasting, after fans spent the intermission singing “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Livin’ On A Prayer.”
The stage is set, the Bruins have done what they needed to create a chance to win, and now they have to finish. Krejci line is out there to start overtime.
End of regulation, 4-4: Nobody — nobody! — thought the Bruins even had a chance to cut it to one goal, let alone tie the game, yet the Bruins never quit and somehow pulled off the miracle comeback. That was truly one of those moments that will forever go down in Bruins lore, perhaps surpassing the “This Building Is Vibrating” game that’s remembered so fondly.
That will depend largely on what happens next. The Bruins came back, but they haven’t won. And they’ll have just 15 minutes to rest and try to score one more time.
God knows what’s going through the minds of the Maple Leafs right now. They have to be shaken, and if there weren’t an intermission before overtime, it’d be hard to imagine they’d be able to play an organized game at all. But they do have the break to gather themselves here, so anything can happen come overtime.
Third period, 50.2 seconds, 4-4: Miracle! Miracle! Miracle!
Patrice Bergeron from the high slot. Wrister. Goal. Tie game.
Third period, 1:22, 4-3 Maple Leafs: Miracle finish? Maybe not, but it’s a lot more possible now.
Zdeno Chara, in the same spot where he decided to pass with 10 seconds left in Game 6, this time opted to shoot. Reimer couldn’t handle the shot (of course) and gave up a big, fat rebound. Lucic (also in the same spot he was last night) was there to bang home the rebound to cut the lead to one and at least create the possibility of a miracle comeback. Don’t shut off the TV yet.
Third period, 4:58, 4-2 Maple Leafs: The Bruins are working to create more chances, but time is not on their side. They’ll need a third one fast if they hope to have a chance for a miracle.
Third period, 10:42, 4-2 Maple Leafs: Well, the Bruins are still kicking. Milan Lucic carried a puck with speed behind the net and passed to Nathan Horton on the edge of the right faceoff circle. Horton fired a hard wrister high on net and scored, and the Bruins have some life left.
Third period, 14:31, 4-1 Maple Leafs: If it wasn’t over before, it is now. Fans are heading to the exits with nearly a full period left in the game, because Rask just gave up a huge rebound on a Kessel shot, and Nazem Kadri scored to give the Leafs a 4-1 lead.
Third period, 17:51, 3-1 Maple Leafs: Phil Kessel has gone from being inept against his former team to becoming a full-fledged Bruins killer. After a puck bounced off the right post, Kessel was there to jam it in past Rask for the Leafs’ third goal of the night. Dagger.
Third period, 20:00, 2-1 Maple Leafs: Dennis Seidenberg is not on the Bruins’ bench, so he might be done for the night.
Third period is under way. Final 20 minutes of the Bruins’ season? It’s up to them to prevent that.
End of second period, 2-1 Maple Leafs: And the second period ends with rounds of boos from the balcony, with fans loudly frustrated with a lack of shooting on the power play.
That’s of course not a change of pace from the way the rest of the game has been going. The Bruins have a measly 13 shots on goal through 40 minutes of an elimination game, in which they’ve been trailing for the past 14 minutes. You’d think desperation would kick in at some point, but so far, the Bruins have not been able to generate the chances they need to put the pressure on James Reimer and Toronto. They’re really going to have double their two-period shots total for this to even get interesting in the third period.
With Dennis Seidenberg still out, it’s no easy task, but the Bruins can’t make any excuses.
Second period, 1:52, 2-1 Maple Leafs: Huge chance for the Bruins to turn this around before intermission, as Lupul goes to the box for tripping.
Second period, 4:46, 2-1 Maple Leafs: The officiating is getting a bit out of control. During the power play after the Lucic penalty, Mikhail Grabovski gets penalized for cross-checking … but Gregory Campbell gets whistled for a matching minor for roughing. Shortly after Lucic got out of the box, Lupul went crashing into Rask, knocking off the goaltender’s mask. Rask got in a pretty solid right jab to Lupul’s face with his blocker, and Chara got in a little knock on Lupul’s face as well, and neither of those drew penalties, even though they were more worthy of calls than Campbell’s or Lucic’s infractions.
Nevertheless, the Bruins still have just 13 shots, 35 minutes into the game. Time to turn it on.
Second period, 6:58, 2-1 Maple Leafs: Milan Lucic goes to the penalty box for roughing on a call this is nothing short of outrageous. Dion Phaneuf slashed Lucic while lying on the ice, and when Phaneuf got to his feet, Lucic got in his face and offered him a bit of a shove. Phaneuf didn’t go down or even act hurt, but Lucic was immediately called for the penalty.
That would be a questionable call even in a February matinee meeting. In Game 7 of a playoff series, it’s atrocious.
Second period, 8:08, 2-1 Maple Leafs: The big story right now is shots, or a lack thereof. The Bruins have just 12 shots through 31:52. They haven’t increased their pace after falling behind, and they really haven’t sustained pressure since the opening minutes of the game.
Second period, 10:30, 2-1 Maple Leafs: It wouldn’t be a game in this series without at least one highlight-reel stop by Rask, and tonight’s came via another glove save from the splits on a hard shot by Jake Gardiner in the slot. Huge save.
Second period, 14:12, 2-1 Maple Leafs: We have tension in the building, after Cody Franson tees up a slap shot from the blue line. With Zdeno Chara passing right in front of Rask at the time of the shot, Rask had no chance, as the puck hit the top corner on his blocker side.
If the Bruins want to keep their season alive, they’re going to have to stage a Game 7 comeback.
Second period, 15:35, 1-1: Power play brings nothing for Boston, with Tyler Seguin’s high one-time slapper their best opportunity of the two minutes.
Still no Seidenberg thi s period, which is a troubling sign for the Bruins.
Second period, 19:27, 1-1: Early power-play opportunity for Boston after Nazem Kadri tackles Johnny Boychuk.
Second period, 20:00, 1-1: It’s hard to gauge much based on body language observations from the ninth floor, but Dennis Seidenberg didn’t look incredibly encouraged by his skate after walking down the tunnel. We’ll see if he returns, but he’ll start this period on the bench.
End of first period, 1-1: The Bruins manage to escape the first period without any further damage. I use those words because they only got 37 seconds of ice time from Dennis Seidenberg in the period. He remained on the bench and didn’t spend the period in the locker room, but there would be no reason for him playing so little other than injury.
It goes without saying that losing Seidenberg would be huge. Andrew Ference is on crutches watching this game, and if Seidenberg can’t play or can’t be effective, that would put the onus on Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski to step up in a big way. That happening isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but the Bruins have to hope Seidenberg can work through it in some way for the next 40 minutes. Seidenberg and Ference have 167 playoff games combined on their resumes, so that’s a lot of veteran experience that can’t be made up and can help level things a bit for the less-experienced Leafs.
First period, 4:46, 1-1: Last night, I think the Bruins’ biggest issue was that they weren’t willing to play the body and put any big hits on the Leafs. Tonight, it’s a different story, and it was perfectly exemplified with a four-second stretch where Bartkowski crushed Joffrey Lupul into the boards in the Bruins’ end. Joe Colborne then carried the puck in front and was rudely met by a perfect shoulder-to-shoulder check by Johnny Boychuk.
First period, 7:37, 1-1: It looks like Claude is set with Jagr on the second line with Bergeron and Marchand, and Seguin on the third line with Kelly and Peverley.
First period, 10:25, 1-1: Well, Cody Franson has made up for his misplay on the Boston goal, as he was in the right place at the right time to get his stick on a loose puck off a rebound near the crease and bury it for a power-play goal. It wasn’t pretty, but it evened this one up and quieted the crowd.
The Leafs were on a power play after Zdeno Chara got called for high sticking.
First period, 14:21, 1-0 Bruins: The Bruins take an early lead on a goal by … Matt Bartkowski.
The late addition to the lineup got a beautiful pass from Cody Franson, who plays for the other team. Franson was a bit spooked by the physical presence of Milan Lucic, forcing him to panic and send a no-look pass to the middle of the ice. Bartkowski gathered the puck and took his time before sending a low wrister past Reimer and into the back of the net.
As you would expect, this building is rocking.
First period, 15:48, 0-0: Penalty killed. This building is louder than it’s been all year.
The Leafs got a couple of opportunities but the puck bounced the right way for the Bruins. Zdeno Chara also dumped Kessel in the corner, drawing a loud roar from the crowd, and he later wrestled van Riemsdyk down to the ice behind the play. Referee Dan O’Halloran gave them a signal afterward: “Play on.”
First period, 18:00, 0-0: The Leafs are getting a power play. Rich Peverley was initially called for tripping but then suckered Kadri into taking a penalty of his own. Peverley picked up an additional roughing minor though, so the Leafs will go on the man advantage. The B’s had begun the night with a 3-0 shot advantage. The loud crowd has temporarily been quieted but a kill would make this place reach that deafening level.
First period, 19:12, 0-0: David Krejci, right off the bat, creates a chance himself on a 2-on-1 and then gets a chance on the rebound. Later in the shift, Jagr gets a piece of a Lucic shot and redirects it on net. Good start for Boston.
Jagr is now out there on a line with Bergeron and Marchand for an offensive zone draw.
First period, 20:00: Rene Rancourt has sung the anthems, the puck has been dropped, and Game 7 is under way here in Boston. First goal wins?
7:05 p.m.: Last-minute lineup change for the Bruins. Wade Redden is out, and Matt Bartkowski is in. We’ll see if Bartkowski gets more than the six minutes of ice time he got in Game 5.
Claude is starting things with his best line, Lucic-Krejci-Horton, and Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg on D.
7 p.m.: Tonight’s honorary fan banner captain is Jarrod Clowery, a Stoneham man who was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. He was on Toucher & Rich last week, and if you haven’t listened, you should definitely give it a listen.
For now, the giant Bruins flag is making its way around the loge section, and we’re just about 10 minutes from puck drop. Nervous yet?
6:42 p.m.: When Claude Julien spoke before the game, he sounded like a man on his last bit of patience. So while the lines were the same in warmups as they’ve been all series long, with Marchand and Seguin on Bergeron’s wing on the second line, it seems like Claude is ready to make the change if things aren’t working early. That’s mostly out of necessity at this point, of course, but don’t get too frustrated if you see a couple of futile shifts early on.
At the same time, don’t be surprised if that line plays its best game of the series. This is Game 7. Crazy things happen.
6:16 p.m.: Claude Julien confirmed that Andrew Ference will not play tonight.
5:15 p.m.: This is not where the Bruins wanted to be, but they have no control of the situation anymore. It’s Game 7, and there’s no room left for error.
They used up all of that room already, with a 2-1 loss at home in Game 5 and a 2-1 loss in Game 6 in Toronto last night. They played two pretty poor games, save for the final 10 minutes of Game 5, and if they sit back and wait around tonight, they’ll find themselves with tee times back home on Wednesday afternoon.
While a little bit of golf never hurt anybody, these Bruins have too much pride to accept defeat. On the other side, the Leafs’ resiliency speaks for itself. A lesser team would have caved when trailing 3-1 and facing elimination on the road, but the Leafs have spent the last 120 minutes thoroughly outplaying the Bruins.
There are a lot of theories from a lot of people about what the key to this game will be, but here’s a little secret: Nobody knows.
Nobody predicted Scott Walker of all people would beat Tim Thomas in OT in ’09, or that the Bruins would blow a 3-0 first-period lead in ’10, or that 60 minutes would pass without a penalty against Tampa Bay in ’11, or that Joel Ward would beat Thomas last year in overtime. These things are unpredictable, and that’s why we watch. It’s also why they’re so nerve-racking.
Head coach Claude Julien is expected to talk with the media a little before 6 p.m., but I’ve seen his game face in these pregame talks, so add in the implications of a Game 7, and I wouldn’t expect Claude to shed too much light on much of anything when he does meet with us.
Nevertheless, I’ll have all the updates leading up to puck drop, throughout the game and all the way until the final zeroes tick off the clock, when we’ll know whether it’s lights out or on to the next one for the Bruins.