Somehow, someway, the Boston Bruins staved off an early playoff exit by beating the Maple Leafs in chaotic Game 7.
Boston Bruins fans have watched Jake DeBrusk make huge plays in big-time moments all year. And in the most important game of his young NHL career, he shined bright once again. He answered the the bell early and late in the game when the team needed him the most.
The #14 pick in the 2015 entry draft, often gets lumped in with the narrative that the Bruins passed on Matt Barzal with their 3 straight picks in the draft. But, tonight shows that DeBrusk is a perfect fit with this team. A skilled forward with natural goal-scoring ability who is not afraid to get his hands dirty on a play.
Looking back at Game 6, there was a scrum after a play where Roman Polak went after DeBrusk, and he just smiled and laughed back at him as he skated away, not shying away from any moment. He’s natural big game performer, that was proven tonight, but more importantly, this kid could be a star for this team.
Bruce Cassidy switched things up and started with the Bruins 4th line, who have been a catalyst for the B’s recently. However, just 30 seconds into the game, Toronto went to the powerplay as Sean Kuraly was called for tripping. While the Bruins did have two shots on goal, the Leafs converted on the man advantage as Patrick Marleau tipped a point shot by Jake Gardiner underneath the pad of Rask and the Maple Leafs had an early 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute after Marleau’s opening tally, Morgan Rielly shot the puck over the glass, and it was the Bruins turn on the powerplay. The B’s thought they had a goal early in the powerplay as the puck trickled through Andersen, but the combo of Andersen and Tomas Plekanec cleared the puck off the goal line and kept the Leafs lead intact. That lead didn’t last for much longer, as DeBrusk tipped a David Pastrnak shot past Andersen.
Both teams had early powerplay goals, and the period got even crazier. The scoring continued, as a few minutes after DeBrusk’s goal, Toronto got their lead back. Boston failed to clear the puck and the veteran Marleau scored his second goal of the period. In under 7 minutes of game action, the teams had already scored 3 goals.
But, the Bruins battled back again, but this time it was another rookie, Danton Heinen, scoring his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal. After being scratched in Game 6, Heinen returned in a big way, converting on Rick Nash‘s pass back into the slot from behind the net.
A scary moment happened later in the frame, as a fluttering Zdeno Chara shot hit Morgan Rielly in the face started bleeding and left the ice. He returned to the game to start the 2nd period.
The Bruins penalty kill went back to work as Rick Nash was whistled for high-sticking. The B’s killed off Nash’s penalty and the Bruins kept pressing for the remainder of the period. All the pressure paid off in the end as Patrice Bergeron pounced on a rebound for a 3-2 lead. A Kevan Miller point shot went wide of the net and kicked out to Bergeron, who was set up by the side of the goal and put home the rebound. After a wild, crazy and heart-pounding first period, the Bruins went back to the locker room with a 3-2 lead.
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To say that this period was one of the worst periods of the series is a huge understatement. The Bruins were sloppy, looked disengaged, and got outplayed for the whole 20-minute frame. Entering the period with a 1 goal advantage, they gave it right back as Travis Dermott scored on a wrister from outside the left circle. Again, the Bruins failed to clear the zone and the Leafs took advantage.
Boston did get their second powerplay of the game as Tomas Plekanec interfered with Brad Marchand. The man advantage was a massive failure as halfway through the powerplay, Marchand couldn’t handle the puck at the blueline and Kasperi Kapanen outmuscled a backchecking Marchand and beat Rask with a gorgeous shorthanded breakaway goal.
With their lead quickly evaporated, the Bruins couldn’t get anything going. Toronto controlled play and when the Bruins did get the puck into the zone, Freddie Andersen had it covered.
Another scary moment happened in this game, as Adam McQuaid hustled back to stop a dangerous Toronto chance and crashed hard into the boards. He was down for a little bit and helped off the ice, but returned soon after.
The period would end with the Maple Leafs up 4-3, and the Bruins needed more in the tank in the 3rd and a better effort than what they showed in the middle period.
That better effort is exactly what they gave. David Krejci and Zach Hyman both went to the box and we had some 4 on 4 hockey. Right off the faceoff, a Torey Krug blast flew past Andersen and we were tied at 4.
A few minutes later, another set of matching penalties occurred, this time on Tyler Bozak and Rick Nash. DeBrusk, with a sense of urgency, scored his second goal of the game to give the Bruins a 5-4 lead. DeBrusk sped down the right wing and was able to pull off a quick shot to beat Andersen 5-hole, just before Jake Gardiner clobbered him with a huge hit, and then it was celly season.
The Garden was rocking after DeBrusk’s goal and it got even louder as the clock ticked down. After porous defense and goaltending in the 2nd period, both settled down in the 3rd as Toronto barely got any shots and looks on goal.
Pastrnak got the insurance marker after a great forecheck by Marchand and Bergeron kept the puck behind the Leafs net, and a centering pass found Pasta all alone in front who buried the 6th Bruins goal of the night.
In what seemed impossible after the 2nd period, the Bruins had a 2 goal lead with under 1 minute to go and with Andersen pulled, Brad Marchand buried the empty netter.
It may not have been as big of a comeback like 2013, but tonight was just as nerve-wracking a game as they have played in a long time. The Bruins survived Game 7 with a 7-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- Cassidy relied heavily on Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy as both played over 25 minutes, with Chara topping out at 28:38.
- Similar to Chara and McAvoy, the Bergeron line logged the most minutes on the forward core with everyone over 18 minutes. The only other forward close was David Krejci at 17:24.
- Tuukka Rask has struggled in Game 5 and Game 7 and will need to be better against Tampa as the Bruins offense might have a tougher time scoring on Tampa due to their better defensemen.
- In 3 of their 4 wins last round, the Lightning allowed 2 or fewer goals against New Jersey.
- Even with Pastrnak and Marchand having insane point totals after Round 1, Jake DeBrusk was their best player against the Leafs. He was all over the ice in this series and scored most of his goals when it mattered most.
- Back at it again on Saturday at Tampa Bay.