By Ric Duarte, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — “Kessel had you all fooled by his regular-season play!”

“Another MASSIVE collapse by the Bruins.”

Those were just a couple of the tweets I made with about six minutes left in the third period of Monday night’s Game 7 between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs. And of course, they were your thoughts as well! Down three goals after 5:29 of the third period when Nazem Kadri deposited a Phil Kessel rebound past Tuukka Rask, it was time to turn out the lights, melt the ice, and figure out which players would be on the 2013-14 roster and if the coach would be retained. The loss would sure mean major changes to the hockey club as we know it.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Boston Collapse. The wide-eyed playoff freshmen from Toronto had a meltdown of their own.

It started with a Nathan Horton goal with 11:42 left. Nice, but at the time, I called it ‘window dressing’ to try and make the score respectable. For the next nine minutes, the Bruins were pressing as they hadn’t all game and for much of the past three games, and they were still two goals short of tying the game. Meanwhile, as they put pressure on, it was the Leafs who seemed to keep getting breakaways and 2-on-1’s, which thankfully Rask shut down with regularity.

With two minutes left, Rask headed to the bench as the Bruins dumped and chased. The puck comes back to the Captain and Zdeno Chara blasts on net.

Reimer saved and poked the rebound to Milan Lucic – who in that last10 minutes was the Lucic that we’ve been looking for all year – and he promptly lifted a hard wrister over the prone goalie. Now with 1:22 left, the Bruins were a goal away from tying it. Still improbable!

This will not happen. They are going to lose Game 7 by one goal because of their “Jekyll and Hyde” personality coach Claude Julien said they have. They are still teasing us by clawing back in it and really do not have much time to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Toronto is going to stiffen its backbone and say,  “Screw you, Bruins.You are not gonna take this away from us. Not now. Not this close.”

But the Leafs’ spine was weakening even more as the puck came back to Patrice Bergeron at the blue line, and with the six-foot-nine-inch Chara screening, Bergy’s shot beat Reimer on the blocker side with50.2 seconds left and … and … we are tied?!?!?!

Remarkable! Three goals down in period three of Game 7 and the Bruins tied and the Toronto collapse is almost complete. Rich Peverley had a chance to win the game in regulation on his shot from all alone in the slot but, ahhh, it’s Rich Peverley.

On to overtime, after what should have been a funeral for the Boston Bruins.Adrenaline was pumping in the players and the fans are rocking the TD Garden.

A few innocuous scoring plays for both teams before Bergeron brought the puck into the attacking zone. Toronto players allowed him to bring it around behind the net to Tyler Seguin who immediately put a shot on net.

One rebound, a shot by Bergeron, another rebound and sticks from both teams poke the puck right back to Bergeron who one-times it home and this surreal adventure has left the Bruins and their fans in euphoria.

Toronto players were in shock, utter disbelief. Nazem Kadri was having good thoughts, for a while.

“Obviously there were thoughts creeping into your mind, that we might be advancing to the second round,” said Kadri, “but at the end of the day we couldn’t handle the pressure that was given.”

Joffrey Lupul tweeted, “That hockey game will haunt me till the day I die.”

After many seven-game disappointments, I still don’t believe what I witnessed last night. The Bruins were dead in the water. Yet they managed to bring their will, their fortitude, their talent, but most of all their experience in these games to that final 10 minutes of regulation and show the young, playoff neophytes what these Stanley Cup Playoffs are really all about!

Wow! Just Wow!

Ric Duarte has covered hockey and the Bruins for various media outlets since 1986. You can follow Ric at and on Twitter @bruins_diehard.


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