The Bruins and Maple Leafs will play Game 7 to decide who advances to the second round Tuesday.
It is the third time a Bruins-Leafs playoff series has required seven games in as many postseason meetings: one in 2013, and another just last year.
Only two players on the Leafs played in both 2013 and 2018’s series: defenseman Jake Gardiner and center Nazem Kadri. Kadri was suspended for the remainder of the first round after a Game 2 crosscheck on Jake DeBrusk.
The Bruins still feature six players from those series: Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Torey Krug, Brad Marchand, and Tuukka Rask.
Here’s a reminder of what happened the last two times a Bruins-Leafs playoff series required a Game 7:
May 13, 2013: Bruins win, 5-4
In 2013, the Leafs made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. They pushed the first-round series to a seventh game in Boston with low scoring wins in Games 5 and 6.
An insurmountable deficit
Four unanswered goals in the second and third periods made the game 4-1 in favor of the Leafs. The Bruins stared elimination in the face with 14:31 left in their season.
“To be honest, I kind of thought we were done,” defenseman Dougie Hamilton said postgame.
Fluto Shinzawa, a reporter for the Boston Globe at the time, noted after the game that a Bruins loss may have meant the team’s core would be broken up after several years of success.
“You’re looking at the clock wind down with half a period left and you’re down 4-1,” Milan Lucic told the Globe. “You start thinking to yourself, ‘Is this the end of this group here?’ Because it probably would have been if we didn’t win this game.”
As play resumed, NESN’s Bruins broadcaster Jack Edwards delivered a solemn statement to the television audience: “The Toronto Maple Leafs, unless they suffer a colossal collapse, are going to eliminate the Boston Bruins.”
Patrice Bergeron led the Bruins’ desperate comeback
A Nathan Horton goal started the climb back for the Bruins, but they did not score again for nine minutes.
“It was tough being on the bench, getting booed, looking up at the time clock, and watching those seconds count down,” Brad Marchand said. “But after [David Krejci’s] line got that first one for us and started to climb back, you could see the emotion on the bench. Guys started to believe. That’s what we needed.”
Bergeron scored both the game-tying goal that sent the Bruins and Leafs to overtime and the game-winner six minutes into the overtime period that completed an unforgettable comeback.
“Pretty crazy,” Lucic said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a game with anything like that.”
April 25, 2018: Bruins win, 7-4
The Atlantic division rivals met again in the first round five years later. This time, the Bruins won three of the first four games to gain another 3-1 series lead. As in 2013, the Leafs pushed back, forcing Game 7 in Boston.
A third-period onslaught blew the Leafs away
Much like in 2013, the Bruins scored the final four goals of Game 7.
Torey Krug scored on a one-time slapshot to tie the game at 4-4.
Jake DeBrusk’s goal off a rush gave the Bruins the lead. Two more from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand sealed the Bruins’ advance to the second round.
“For entertainment value, that is probably one of the better Game 7s you’ll see,” Rask told the Boston Globe after Game 7 last year. “Goals going both ways, kind of a nightmare for goalies, with all the scoring chances coming at you. But we stuck with it, and we have all year. A one-goal game into the third and we shut it down and scored some big goals.”