For a lot of us the biggest day in our hockey lives was June 15, 2011. That night, the Boston Bruins stamped ‘PAID IN FULL’ on the back of Roberto Luongo as they marched to a 4-0 game seven victory in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. For a lot of us, tonight is going to likely be our #2. The Bruins are the first team in NHL history to win a game seven after trailing by three goals in the third period.
Overtime in game seven during the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. We’ve been here the last three years now. In 2011, Nathan Horton pulled a rabbit out of the hat in overtime to beat the Montreal Canadiens. In 2012, Joel Ward did the same thing to the Bruins. This year, the Bruins got to exorcise a few demons of the past and of the series by doing it again tonight.
Patrice Bergeron was the star of this evening’s performance. He had only one goal during the first six games of the series. He was the center of a line that was much maligned for its lack of production. During the regular season, the Bergeron line (with wingers Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin) were the dominant performers in the shortened season. During this first round, we saw next to nothing from Bergeron. Well, he came through tonight. (He may have had the game of his life.) I could probably write a small book on Bergeron and his game tonight, but I’ll leave it up to Bergy to share it with us. Here is his post-game interview.
There we were. The Bruins were down several players. Andrew Ference was on crutches from a blocked shot in game five. Wade Redden was also out of the line up. So, it was time for a rookie’s baptism of fire. Dougie Hamilton had limited NHL playoff experience, and Matt Bartkowski had none. They were going to be needed to play some of the best hockey of their lives. The situation got worse when we lost Dennis Seidenberg in the first set of the game. Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara ended up playing 35:46 in game seven.
Things did look up for a while. Matt Bartkowski showed no rookie jitters as he put the Bruins up early in the first, earning his first NHL playoff point. After that though, things started to go sour. Cody Franson, who had missed his man allowing the Bartkowski goal came back swinging with two goals of his own. One a few minutes after the Bruins goal, and the other in the second period. At the end of two periods, the Leafs were up 2-1, and things were getting antsy in the Garden.
Then it got worse. Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri had scored in the third period. (I was glad with the Kadri goal, after all the “Thank You Kessel” crap we’ve given him, it would have sucked to have him put the nail in our coffin.)We were down 4-1. Fans could be seen leaving the TD Garden. (Personal Note: Shame on you! Seriously! My Bruins Brother told me that a true fan never leaves his(or her) seat. If we’re down 6-0 we stay and we support the team no matter what. 1.) You didn’t back the team and your fellow members of the Nation. 2.) You missed ten of the best minutes in professional hockey EVER!) The crowd was pretty silent in Boston, and they were beside themselves with joy in Toronto. (At that point, could you blame them?)
Then it started. The Krejci line got on the ice and got us a goal at 9:18. Nathan Horton started the comeback for us. The Bruins kept coming. Reimer’s rebounds were getting worse and more pronounced. But the Leafs weren’t done yet. A last minute breakaway by Matt Frattin game within a single Tuukka Rask pad save of dooming the series for Boston. Two U’s, Two K’s, two pads, and one amazing save.
I’d type out what happened next, but it wouldn’t do it justice. It really wouldn’t “Can you believe this?!” I couldn’t. So, rather than shame this historic moment, just watch it again. Two goals in the last ninety seconds. We got them to overtime and Patrice Bergeron made the miracle happen in overtime. In the end, it’s one of the greatest games some of us will ever get to see. It’s a turned page in the history books.
The Bruins will be meeting the New York Rangers for another Original Six matchup. The first game will be at the TD Garden on Thursday night.