Boston — This is where the Toronto Maple Leafs try to change the ending.
After beating the Bruins in back-to-back elimination games to force their first-round playoff series to the limit — just like they did in 2013 — the Maple Leafs are hoping to finish the job on Wednesday in Game 7 in Boston.
That’s something they couldn’t do five years ago, when they became the first team in NHL history to blow a three-goal, third-period deficit and lose a Stanley Cup playoff game.
“We’ve got some more work to do,” said goalie Frederik Andersen, who stopped 32 of 33 shots in Game 6 on Monday to help Toronto win 3-1 and prolong its season.
“It’s the same kind of pressure we’ve felt these last two games, where we’ve been facing elimination,” he said. “Game 7 should be the same. It’s something that you all dream of —those big moments — and you also want to perform.”
So do the Bruins, who have struggled to put away Toronto for the second consecutive time. In ‘13, the Maple Leafs won two straight and then opened a 4-1 lead in the third period of Game 7, but Boston scored a pair of goals 31 seconds apart in the final 2 minutes of regulation before winning in overtime.
Patrice Bergeron, who scored the game-winner, is one of seven Bruins remaining from that team, compared with four players wearing Toronto jerseys.
“It’s nice to have those guys,” said Boston forward David Pastrnak, who had four goals and five assists in the first two games of the series this year but only two assists since. “They’ve been here a bunch, so they know what to expect. It’s good for our young guys to have them around.”
The winner of Wednesday night’s game will play Tampa Bay, which eliminated New Jersey in five games. The Lightning will host the first two games, regardless of which opponent advances.
“I don’t think there’s any panic at all in this group,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Toronto feels the same way.
“We think we’re going to win,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ve thought that all along, and we’ve crawled our way back and now we have the opportunity of a lifetime. This is where you want to be.”
Both teams paid their respects to the victims of the rental van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people and injured 15 more. There was a moment of silence before Monday night’s game, and Babcock opened his postgame remarks by sending support to those affected. Asked on Tuesday about the pressure his team faces heading into a winner-take-all game, Cassidy said he has tried to keep things in perspective.
“Listen, yesterday in Toronto, the first-responders, they were under pressure. That’s pressure to me, that’s real-life pressure,” he said. “This is a game that players dream about being in this situation, Game 7, playing road hockey in a small town in Canada or a big city in the United States or somewhere in between. That’s what it’s all about. … Now you’ve got to go out and embrace it.”
Game 7 history
The Bruins are 13-12 in Game 7s, with a 12-8 record at home. Toronto is 12-10 and 5-9 on the road. Boston is 2-1 in Game 7s against Toronto, including 2013. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will be playing in his 12th career Game 7 – the most for any active player, and just one shy of the record held by Patrick Roy and Scott Stevens.
The Capitals and Penguins await the start of the second round, when they will play each other for the third straight postseason. Pittsburgh is 9-1 all-time in playoff series against Washington.
In the West, the pairings are Vegas against San Jose and Winnipeg against Nashville.