Another wild Game 7 is officially in the NHL history books, and it was another victory for the Boston Bruins over the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s only fitting that a strange, wacky, confusing series ends with a roller coaster seventh game. Well done, National Hockey League. This is why we love you.
Even though the final score read 7-4 in favor of the Bruins, it was actually much closer than a three-goal game. Pretty much up until midway through the third period, it seemed like it was anyone’s game. There were goals galore, particularly in the first period, but neither team could really gain an upper hand on the other. For the first 20 minutes of the game, it was open fire on the goalies — and the pucks were going into the net more times than not. A total of five goals were scored in the first period alone, yet neither team led by more than a single goal until late in the third period.
Boston rookie Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins the lead once and for all at 5:25 into the third period, and then David Pastrnak iced the series with another goal at 11:39. But those were just two goals out of a bevy of them that made Wednesday night’s Game 7 an epic one that Bruins fans will be looking back fondly on for months. Leafs fans, probably not so much, but what else is new?
Here are some of the biggest moment’s from Game 7 between the Bruins and the Maple Leafs.
Bruins Quickly Answer Leafs Back … Twice
Early in the first period of Game 7, the Bruins gave the Maple Leafs a taste of the medicine they had been dishing out to them in the previous two games. In Games 5 and 6, Toronto made it a trend of quickly answering a Boston goal with a goal of its own. This grittiness, along with the brilliant goaltending of Frederik Andersen, was a huge reason why the Leafs were able to come back from down three games to one and force a decisive Game 7.
This time, however, the Bruins turned the tables around on the Leafs, and they did it twice in the first period. Toronto scored an early goal off the stick of Patrick Marleau to take a 1-0 lead. Less than three minutes later, Pastrnak and DeBrusk showed off a little teamwork to notch Boston’s first goal of the game.
Marleau quickly scored again to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead, but once again less than three minutes later, the Bruins found the net to knot the game up — this time off the stick of Danton Heinen.
This technique of quickly answering the opponent’s goals heavily contributed to Toronto’s wins in the previous two games, but in Game 7, the Bruins were able to use that technique to their own advantage. Quickly answering on the other end halted Toronto’s momentum before it could really get going, and it prevented them from going on a run and blowing the game open early.
Kapanen Scores on Shorthanded Breakaway
Even though the Maple Leafs ended up losing the game, it’s hard not to include Kasperi Kapanen’s second period goal as one of the biggest highlights of the game. While on the penalty kill, Kapanen snaked the puck away from Brad Marchand at center ice and broke away towards the net. He then manipulated the heck out of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, essentially wrapping his body around a diving Rask to slide the puck around him and into the net.
It was a huge goal to give the Leafs a 4-3 lead in the mid second period, and had they ended up winning, might have been the most pivotal goal of the game.
DeBrusk Dazzles With Go-Ahead Goal
The go-ahead goal by DeBrusk in the third period, which officially clinched the series for the Bruins, was the most dazzling goal of the game — even more so than Kapanen’s breakaway goal. Tied 4-4, DeBrusk raced towards the net with the puck and took a shot at the goal. Immediately after the puck left his stick, he was knocked on his rear end by Toronto’s Jake Gardiner and sent sliding four or five feet around the back of the net.
But the beautiful part of the whole process was that, while DeBrusk went sliding around the net on his backside, the puck went sliding directly between Andersen’s legs and into the back of the goal. 5-4, Bruins. And that goal made all the difference.
“It was a pretty special moment,” the rookie DeBrusk said after the game. “I like to ‘celly’ pretty hard and would’ve ‘cellied’ pretty hard if I had been on my feet, that’s for sure. But at the same time, it didn’t really matter. It was just nice at that time of the game to get that kind of goal. It was something that I’ll never forget, especially being in my first Game 7.”
And now that the Bruins have finally sent the Maple Leafs packing for the summer, they will turn their attention to the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins and the Lightning will face off in Tampa in Game 1 of the second round on Saturday at 3 pm Eastern.
Cody Rivera is a sports writer covering the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers, as well as a contributor to SB Nation’s PatsPulpit.com. In addition to the Bruins, Cody is also a devoted fan of the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots. Send Cody an email at firstname.lastname@example.org