It was after 4:30 a.m. Tuesday in Bahrain, an island kingdom in the Persian Gulf, when Tamer Fakhroo, a despondent Bruins fan, clicked off his television and went to bed.
With the Bruins looking deader than last week’s falafel — they trailed the Maple Leafs, 4-1, with less than 12 minutes to play in a decisive Game 7 of the NHL playoffs — Fakhroo decided he needed sleep more than a few more minutes of anguish.
Poor guy. Like legions of faith-shaken Bruins fans, Fakhroo missed one of the most historic comebacks in professional sports as the team scored three more times in regulation — twice in the final 82 seconds — en route to a 5-4 overtime victory Monday night that turned the remaining TD Garden crowd delirious.
Fakhroo, a senior process analyst at Citibank Bahrain, got the news when his alarm went off less than three hours after his head hit the pillow. No need for his morning coffee.
“It became one of the happiest days of my life,’’ he said by e-mail.
Whoever they were — Dropkick Murphys star Ken Casey, Bruins president Cam Neely, the fortunate few in the luxury suites, or the Gallery Gods in the cheap seats — memories of the improbable events that unfolded before them on Causeway Street on a chilly night in May will travel with them for a lifetime.
Several said their jubilation will remain as unforgettable as their despair moments earlier. And the outcome was especially welcome, Casey said, for a city in need of feel-good moments since the Marathon bombings.
“Every reason to smile helps,’’ he said.
It hardly mattered if they were Casey, a rock star watching from the good seats with two of his children, or Allan Steele, a lifelong Bruins fan from Medford who shares season tickets with four pals in the last row of the Garden balcony. They and the hundreds of thousands who watched or listened to the game’s final minutes on media broadcasts are bound by the experience.
“This has been a season for the ages, with the tragedies that happened with the Marathon and then this epic comeback,’’ Neely said. “This will be in the conversation for years and years to come because I don’t think you will see it again anytime soon.’’
Good fortune seemed to be smiling on the Bruins when they quickly scored first after losing the two previous games to the Leafs. The Garden crowd was rocking, and celebratory patrons at The Four’s, a restaurant and bar on nearby Canal Street, were being dutifully recorded by a NESN television crew.
Then the sky began to fall. The Leafs tied the score late in the first period, then struck three times to seize a 4-1 advantage in the third period that soon began to seem insurmountable.
“You start watching the clock tick down and you become somewhat of a realist,’’ said Neely, one of the all-time Bruins greats in his playing career. “Disappointment begins to set in.’’
As hope began to fade, the Garden began to echo with vitriol, much of it directed at Bruins coach Claude Julien.
“People were getting cranky, calling the players idiots, and screaming for the coach to be fired,’’ Steele said.
One of Casey’s bandmates — “I won’t drag anyone’s name through the mud ’’ — headed for the exits, and one of Casey’s kids suggested they do the same.
At The Four’s, manager Jim Taggart watched the NESN crew pack up with plenty of time left to play. They headed for the streets to chronicle the sullen crowd exiting the arena.
Garden president Amy Latimer, hoarse from cheering the Bruins, could not estimate how many fans departed the building before the remarkable conclusion. (Policy prevents customers who leave from returning.)
But many observers witnessed a sizeable number of customers return to their seats after Nathan Horton scored to make it 4-2 with 10:42 to play. Even then, hope remained faint.
“You still realize it’s not an easy task’’ to complete the comeback, Neely said.
The Garden all but shook, the crowd rocking, when Milan Lucic made it 4-3 with 82 seconds left. But a sense of resignation lingered.
“Too little too late kind of runs through your head,’’ Neely said.
Then, boom, less than 40 seconds later, Patrice Bergeron’s goal tied it. At The Four’s, the NESN crew suddenly reappeared (a NESN spokesman said the team was assigned to cover both the bar and the street). In the good seats, Casey watched a group of Toronto fans, who moments earlier had been phoning home to plan parties, clutch their heads with their hands.
And in the cheap seats, pandemonium reigned.
“They guy in front of me, who had left cursing, came flying back after they scored the third goal,’’ Steele said. “He hadn’t said two words to me all season and suddenly he was turning around high-fiving me.’’
So it was throughout the family of Bruins fans.
“All of a sudden you had 15,000 brothers and sisters,’’ Steele said. “I’ve been coming to Bruins games forever, since the Bobby Orr era, and this is the one I will remember the most.’’
Boston Police had tightened security around the Garden since the Marathon bombings and were additionally vigilant because of the combustible possibilities involving Game 7s in professional sports. But the postgame revelers, as enthusiastic as any in recent memory, were peaceful.
“Boisterous crowd but no damage’’ and no arrests, said BPD spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca.
Casey, whose Dropkicks song, “Shipping Up to Boston,’’ is part of the Garden’s in-game entertainment for the Bruins, was one of the few witnesses who could be haunted by the memorable conclusion.
He had practiced some unusual parental diplomacy in explaining to his 3-year-old son, Colin, why he was staying home while dad was taking Emma, 11, and son, Liam, 8, to the game.
“I told Colin the older ones were going to the doctor to get shots,’’ he said. “Luckily, he’s too young to read this article.’’
But history endures.Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.