BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins remember what happened last time they met Toronto in the NHL playoffs. They also realize they can’t count on it happening again.
After taking a 3-1 lead in the series but failing to close out the Maple Leafs in Games 5 and 6 of their first-round series in 2013, Boston fell behind 4-1 in the third period of the decisive seventh game before sending it into overtime with two goals in the last 82 seconds of regulation.
The Bruins won in OT en route to their second Stanley Cup Finals appearance in three years.
“It’s kind of crazy how things worked out,” forward Brad Marchand said after practice Wednesday. “If we went back there again, it wouldn’t necessarily work out (that way), so we got lucky.”
In addition to Marchand, the Bruins have goalie Tuukka Rask, forward David Krejci and defensemen Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug from that team. Toronto has five holdovers with bitter memories of that postseason, including forward Nazem Kadri, who thought he clinched it when he scored with 5:29 gone in the third to make it 4-1.
“I think a lot of people thought the same thing,” Kadri told The Canadian Press. “It was hard to deal with.”
The Bruins went on to beat the New York Rangers in five games and swept the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. They led Chicago 2-1 in the finals before losing three straight, giving up two goals 17 seconds apart in the final minutes of the finale before watching the Blackhawks skate around the TD Garden ice with the Cup.
It all started with the late rally against Toronto.
“We had a good run after that,” Rask said.
Here are some other things to look for from the first-round playoff series between the Bruins and Maple Leafs.
Bruins center Riley Nash is not yet ready to return, Cassidy said. Although he worked out on Wednesday, the team decided to give him until at least Saturday to recover from the puck to the right ear that has kept him out since March 31.
“He’s an underrated guy,” Cassidy said, adding that Noel Acciari was the likely replacement. “We’re confident in the guy replacing Riley, but we’ll miss him.”
The move likely leaves U.S. Olympic team captain Brian Gionta as a healthy scratch.
History, Part II
The two Original Six teams don’t have much of a playoff history — at least not lately, or compared to the Bruins and Canadiens. Before 2013, Boston and Toronto hadn’t met since 1974, having spent much of the ’80s and ’90s in different conferences.
In all, the teams are dead even at 34-34-1 in the playoffs, with Toronto holding a series lead of 7-6-1.
But that 2013 series still smarts.
Current Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner was 16 years old at the time.
“As a Leaf fan, it was tough,” he told the CP.
Cassidy said the Bruins would not go too far out of their way to make sure they can match lines with the Maple Leafs, which would help Boston use Bergeron to try to neutralize Toronto’s No. 2 scorer Auston Matthews.
“Generally speaking, we’ve allowed our players to play,” Cassidy said. “We look for it, but we don’t chase it.”
Here’s the schedule for the series:
Thursday: Toronto at Boston, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Toronto at Boston, 8 p.m.
Monday: Boston at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 19: Boston at Toronto, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday, April 21: Toronto at Boston, TBA
x-Monday, April 23: Boston at Toronto, TBA
x-Wednesday, April 25: Toronto at Boston, TBA