It’s an uneasy feeling knowing you missed the end of one of the greatest comeback games in Bruins history. In Stanley Cup history. In hockey.
Some Bruins fans woke up this morning to an assault on their senses. Had the Bruins won? That can’t be right. They were down 4-1 after 5:39 of the third period. A win seemed more than improbable. It seemed outlandish.
But as news filtered out of TD Garden, through smart phones and social media, thousands of Bruins fans who left the game and turned off their TVs were stunned to find their team had won in dramatic fashion, a 5-4 overtime victory. It was the first time a team had come back from three goals down in the third period to win a Game 7 in NHL history.
The emotions shared on social media ran the gamut Monday night. From those down in the dumps at the prospect of a second straight first-round playoff exit, to those high on the jubilation of a victory no one saw coming. At the end of the second period, fans were ready to dump the coach. But it all changed in 17 minutes.
“Just when you think the Bruins have a reason to fire Claude Julien, they come back and win,” tweeted one fan.
By the time Toronto’s Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri added two goals in the third, many had given up after a lackluster performance by the Bruins.
“Can we go back to the lockout,” pondered one fan on Boston.com’s live blog.
“Are there more Leafs on the ice? Guess it just seems that way,” asked another.
And then Nathan Horton scored, making it a 4-2 game with more than 10 minutes left in the third.
“Yes … now only down two goals,” wrote one poster.
At that point, there was still no letup on the team. As far as Boston.com readers were concerned, the Bruins should’ve been preparing for their wrath to be unleashed.
“Dead eyes, dead legs, no heart,” wrote one anonymous poster after Horton’s goal. “A team that once was so tough and played with such intensity is now a bunch of stick lifters that can’t get out of their own way without the other team playing down to them. Pathetic.”
With a little more than two minutes to go, the Bruins went to an empty net to help the team’s offense. It paid off in no time as Milan Lucic got a goal in front of the Leafs net. The Leafs were still up, 4-3, so the skepticism of Bruins fans was still heavy on social media.
“Do I dare to hope,” asked reader Tyler Alderson.
And then Patrice Bergeron tied it up with 50.2 seconds left on the clock, preceding a stream of celebratory proclamations. What had been unbelievable only 10 minutes prior, verged on legendary. And yet so many missed what had occurred.
“What a terrible fan I am … turned ’em off at 4-1 to watch [a] recording of Mad Men,” wrote one poster.
Said one fan on Twitter: “I turned the Bruins game off with two minutes left in the third period. I hugged my kegerator good night and went to bed.”
The Garden had already been depleted of fans looking to beat traffic and get a good night’s rest. But many of those same fans tried to re-enter the arena after getting word the comeback was in its throes. One security guard at TD Garden said “it was a lot of people.”
By overtime, the lovefest was on.
“Just when I thought I was out, they suck me back in,” wrote one fan on Boston.com.
When Bergeron scored the game-winning goal, the bewildered excitement of the game hadn’t even reached its zenith.
“Wow. Shocking. All that depression for nothing,” wrote one poster. “Who knew they had it in them? For once, they exceed expectations.”
Afterward, fans jubilantly streamed onto the streets and took to public transportation, rowdy and satisfied. It was a good win that many of their fellow fans wouldn’t share with them in all of its glory until the morning, when they finally got the news.