The Bruins, facing elimination, allowed neither comeback nor coronation, as their best rose again
TORONTO — No looking back, Torey Krug was telling a Canadian TV reporter between the second and third periods on Sunday. Only looking forward.
They’ve got their eyes forward, all right.
Game 7 is Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Boston survived some shaky minutes at the outset and a frenzied, fantastic third-period push, but did not allow Toronto a comeback or a coronation. The Bruins, facing elimination, kept their hopes alive by winning, 4-2, in Game 6 at Scotiabank Arena.
The Bruins grabbed this high-drama series back from the Maple Leafs, who had a chance to exorcise their demons from 2013 and 2018, when they lost seven-game epics to their Black and Gold tormentors. The Leafs, who had a chance on home ice to win their first playoff series since 2004, will have to do it in Boston.
The Bruins are not prepared to let them.
Brad Marchand scored twice, the Bruins were in attack mode all over the ice (41-24 shot edge) as the team played its best game of the series, in the eyes of coach Bruce Cassidy.
“Obviously we’re desperate, but this is the kind of thing we talked about yesterday, trying to hit your ceiling,” said Cassidy, noting that their Game 2 win was an “ornery response” to a flat opening loss, not the kind of aggressive, hard-charging, sound-defending brand they showed Sunday. “We got as close to it as I’ve seen in a long time.”
Cassidy once again put his forward lines in a blender and saw his best players — David Pastrnak (two assists), Patrice Bergeron (assist, 74 percent on draws) and Marchand (2-1—3) — rise to the top. He pointed to Marchand’s battle on his empty-netter as “typical Marchy.”
“He goes to another level,” Cassidy said. “Most of the good ones do at this time of year.”
Marchand, who scored the first goal in a Game 6 the last time the Bruins overcame a 3-2 series deficit — the 2011 Stanley Cup Final against Vancouver — and Bergeron have had so many moments in Game 7s (Vancouver, 2013 Toronto, 2018 Toronto). They may well again Tuesday. The veterans weren’t fazed after Toronto’s Morgan Rielly made it 1-0 at 9:42 of the first. The next three goals were Boston’s.
“We’re not going to look at anything that’s happened in the past and expect it to play out a certain way,” said Marchand, who arrived zen-like and barefoot for his postgame interview. “We’re fighting for our season again next game. We don’t know how it’s going to play out, but we’re going to have fun doing it.”
One of last year’s Game 7 heroes, Jake DeBrusk, emerged from a three-game funk with his first goal of the series. He finished a brilliant 2-on-2 rush with David Krejci by getting inside on Andreas Johnsson and tipping a hot feed past Frederik Andersen (37 saves on 40 shots), making it 3-1 at 7:57 of the second. To borrow a term from the sophomore winger, it was his greasiest game of the series.
“I think it was more intense,” he said. “I didn’t mind my game. I think it’s starting to come around.”
Tuukka Rask, positionally sound and sharp, stopped 22 of 24 shots. Auston Matthews beat him with a laser from the wing at 4:15 into the third, when Toronto was pushing hard, but the Leafs star whiffed on a Rielly feed at the doorstep with 6:40 left. It would have tied it.
Rask, like many of his teammates, spent little time worrying about the mistakes.
“We have experience, obviously,” Rask said. “A lot of experience in the room.”
The Bruins scored twice on the man-advantage after that Rielly goal, leading 2-1 after 20 minutes. They killed a puck-over-glass penalty by Zdeno Chara and survived John Tavares tipping a Rielly slapper off the iron. Not typically comfortable chasing the score, the Bruins outshot the Leafs, 10-2, in the first after that goal.
The Bruins earned a power play at 10:25, when Tyler Ennis held Sean Kuraly. Toronto denied Boston’s top power-play options — Bergeron in the bumper and Pastrnak in the circle. The Leafs didn’t have an answer for Marchand off the faceoff.
Bergeron, who won 17 of 23 drops, had a second-effort win. Marchand snatched the puck, then zipped it off defenseman Ron Hainsey’s shin pad and past Andersen at 11:23.
“A really smart play by him to put it on net right away,” Bergeron said.
The Bruins couldn’t build on the goal at first. Joakim Nordstrom high-sticked Travis Dermott, after Dermott’s uncalled slew-foot took out Nordstrom’s legs. A minute after that penalty kill, however, Dermott was in the box after tripping DeBrusk.
Krug one-timed a Pastrnak rebound past Andersen, short-side, at 17:02, the Bruins victimizing the Leafs’ Mitch Marner-Zach Hyman-Ron Hainsey-Nikita Zaitsev PK unit for a second time. They are now 7 for 17 (41 percent) on the PP in the series.
The second was pure Bruins’ domination. They were outshooting Toronto, 20-7, on the day when Krejci and DeBrusk connected. The Bruins outshot the Leafs, 14-6, in the first, and 16-9 in the second. Cassidy, at that time, knew they had found it.
“We had to close it out,” Cassidy said. “We tried to stay aggressive.”
They’ve dialed up more of the same for Tuesday.
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