BOSTON — Down a goal, anything can happen.
Down two goals? Daunting, but doable.
Down three goals, in the third period, of Game 7? Turn out the lights and melt the ice. Forget about it.
The Boston Bruins turned logic on its head in front 17,565 delighted fans at TD Garden last night, scoring twice with the goalie pulled in the final 82 seconds and again in overtime to stun Toronto, 5-4, in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Patrice Bergeron had both the tying goal (with 51 seconds to play) and the overtime winner at 6:05 of sudden death.
“We found a way,” Bergeron said. “We showed some character and we found a way”
Boston will now face the Boxford native Chris Kreider and the New York Rangers (winners of their own Game 7 over Washington, 5-0, last night) later this week in the East semifinals beginning Thursday at home.
The Black-and-Gold were an eyelash away from allowing a 3-1 series lead slip away. They managed only 13 shots on goal after two periods and appeared lifeless, with one skate and nine other toes in the grave of another season marred by an early playoff exit.
They’d scored two goals, total, in closeout opportunities in Games 5 and 6. Then they scored twice in 82 seconds last night with their lives on the line. The crowd went from angst-ridden to alive and hungry just as quickly as Boston’s fortunes changed.
“One of the craziest Game 7’s I’ve ever played in,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who has an assist and logged 35:46 of ice time.
It’s hard to say what changed over the final 10 minutes. How exactly did the energy shift so drastically from Toronto to Boston?
It began when Nathan Horton scored with 10:42 to go, slicing Toronto’s lead to 4-2. Boston had a few lifeless shifts after that, and it seemed like the Maple Leafs could still salt away the lead.