It was an improbable comeback.
Down, 4-1, with a little more than 14 minutes left to play in the third period, the Bruins were gassed and slumping on the bench, looking for a breath of air. They had just given up two goals in the period and the team’s season was on the brink.
“It was tough there on the bench, getting booed, and looking at the time clock and watching the seconds count down,” said Brad Marchand.
The key was not giving up. But the team needed something — anything — to get its offensive juices going. That’s why Nathan Horton’s third-period goal was so timely. It provided the jolt the team desperately needed en route to a 5-4 overtime comeback victory. It was a remarkable finish as the Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in their playoff series, 4-3, and advance to the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“After [Horton] got that first one for us that started the climb back, we see the emotion on the bench and guys started to believe,” said Marchand. “That’s what we needed.”
The Bruins followed Horton’s goal with two 6-on-5 scores with Milan Lucic scoring, then Patrice Bergeron tying it with just 52 seconds left in the third. It was a stunning offensive stretch for the team in the final 10 minutes of the game, especially after the Bruins had managed only two goals in its previous two games.
“We just took that momentum from them when they had it and with [Horton’s] goal it just gave us that little extra energy we needed to help us score those other ones,” said Johnny Boychuk.
Lucic said the Bruins were in a state of frustration before they broke through in the third period.
“They come out and they score two goals and I think you can tell from halfway through the first until halfway through the third they really frustrated us and we couldn’t really get going,” Lucic said. “It just felt like the one play on Horton’s goal kinda turned things around and made us believe.
“It feels real good right now [but] when you’re looking at the clock wind down with how the period went at 4-1, you start thinking to yourself ‘is this the end of this group right here?’ Because it probably would have been if we didn’t win this game. You gotta have bounces, you gotta have luck, you gotta have everything go your way and that’s what happened in the last 10 minutes of the third period.”
Bergeron scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals, a significant mark for the second line, which had struggled throughout the series. Before Game 7, Bergeron’s line had accounted for only one goal.
“That tying goal was definitely huge,” Bergeron said. “For the team and for me.
“It was a fun ending.”
It certainly was for the Bruins.
“I know everybody in Boston was out of their chairs either in the stands or at home,” said Boychuk. ” It was exciting to be on the ice and watch.”