The Maple Leafs could not win the first-round series. But Toronto claimed its pound of flesh.
The Bruins head into the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Rangers with three defensemen — all left shots — hobbled with various undisclosed ailments.
Andrew Ference did not play in Games 6 and 7 because of a lower-body injury. Before Game 7, Ference was seen on crutches with a walking boot on his left leg. Wade Redden was a late scratch in Game 7 because of an undisclosed injury. Dennis Seidenberg lasted only 37 seconds of Game 7 because of an injury to his left leg.
The Bruins are pulling for serious healing before Thursday’s Game 1 at TD Garden against New York.
“When three defensemen go down, you need guys to step up,” said Milan Lucic. “As a five-man unit there for two periods, they really stepped up and played well for us.”
Seidenberg appeared to injure his leg when pinching down low along the left-side wall in the first period. He returned to the bench. Occasionally, Seidenberg stood to stay loose. But he never stepped back onto the ice. Seidenberg limped to the dressing room after the first period.
Seidenberg emerged from the room to start the second, but he sat on the bench. He did not come out for the third or overtime. Coach Claude Julien said the team might know more about Seidenberg’s status Tuesday.
“He wanted to [play],” Julien said. “But when he couldn’t, it was better to take him out than to make it worse. He wouldn’t have helped us. Plus, it would have made his injury probably worse.”
Redden participated in warm-ups. But Matt Bartkowski replaced Redden on the third pairing. Redden also missed Game 5, presumably because of the same injury.
Because of the blue line attrition, Zdeno Chara had to log a season-high 35:46 of ice time. Chara assisted on Lucic’s third-period goal. He screened James Reimer on Patrice Bergeron’s tying goal.
“We’re so used to a guy like Zdeno doing it night after night,” Julien said. “Sometimes we don’t give him the credit he deserves. If not for Zdeno and the way he played tonight, we’re not sitting here going to the next round.”
Youth is served
Chara wasn’t the only defenseman assuming more minutes. Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton skated critical shifts. Bartkowski played a career-high 24:51, third-most on the team after Chara and Johnny Boychuk (28:30). Hamilton played 21:08.
Bartkowski opened the scoring with his first career goal. After Lucic and Nathan Horton overwhelmed Cody Franson for a puck battle, Bartkowski settled the puck in the high slot. Bartkowski could have let a quick shot go. Instead, he waited for David Krejci and Jake Gardiner to slide past Reimer to disguise his release. Bartkowski snapped the puck through Reimer at 5:39.
Bartkowski was poised with the puck throughout the game. He carried the puck out of trouble.
“Bartkowski was moving the puck and carrying it so well tonight,” Julien said. “And he scored a big goal for us.”
Hamilton, a healthy scratch for four games, had two shots and two hits.
“I felt good today,” Hamilton said. “I felt good and confident and ready. I wasn’t very nervous. I think just excited.”
Grounded up north
The Bruins did not arrive in Boston until approximately 10:30 a.m. Monday. They had to stay in Toronto Sunday night following Game 6 because of a mechanical issue with their charter plane.
Late on Sunday, the Bruins dined at the Canyon Creek Chophouse, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail. The Bruins arrived at the restaurant shortly before closing.
“They were super accommodating to us,” Chris Kelly said. “I’m sure they got called last minute. Thirty or 40 big men come in with big appetites and asked to be served. That was awesome of them to go out of their way. I’m sure if they’re not closed, they’re pretty close to closing. I’m pretty sure for the staff, the last thing they want to see is 30 guys coming in five minutes before they’re supposed to go home. That was really nice of them.”
The Bruins stayed at a hotel near Pearson International Airport. They left Toronto at approximately 9 a.m. and touched down 90 minutes later.
Daniel Paille acknowledged he had a close call in the first period of Game 6. During his first shift, Paille was accidentally cut on the neck by Leo Komarov’s skate blade. Komarov fell forward and clipped Paille with the back of his blade. Paille received treatment on the bench after the collision and required stitches to close the wound. “Fortunate that it wasn’t any worse,” Paille said . . . Julien altered his second and third lines by switching Jaromir Jagr and Tyler Seguin. Julien said he’d seen chemistry growing between Jagr, Rich Peverley, and Kelly on the third line. But because the No. 2 line hadn’t scored an even-strength goal all series, the Bruins needed to squeeze some production out of Bergeron’s line. Jagr had three shots and one assist. Jagr missed some time in overtime because of a skate issue, according to Julien, which resulted in Seguin going back with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. “I thought it was a decent line for us tonight,” Julien said of Bergeron with Marchand and Jagr. “But again, you look at the winning goal, and it’s the same old three guys.” . . . The Bruins will not practice Tuesday. They will practice Wednesday in preparation for Game 1 Thursday . . . The Bruins won 43 of 61 faceoffs (70 percent) . . . NESN concluded its season coverage with Game 7. NBC has exclusive rights for the remainder of the playoffs . . . Aaron Johnson, Kaspars Daugavins, Carl Soderberg, and Jay Pandolfo were healthy scratches.