NHL playoffs: Bruins, Rangers advance in very different Game 7 victories
The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers will continue the Stanley Cup quest after both teams won Monday night. One game featured a comeback for the ages, while the other was surprising for another reason.
The Boston Bruins, having lost two straight games to the Toronto Maple Leafs, found themselves trailing, 4-1, midway through the third and final period of Game 7 in Boston. Somehow, at that moment, the Bruins decided to put up a fight and found a way to score four straight goals in defeating the Maple Leafs, 5-4, in overtime.
Boston forward Nathan Horton's goal with 10:42 left in the game made it 4-2, Toronto. Then, linemate Milan Lucic popped home the rebound of a shot, closing the gap to 4-3 with 1:22 left in regulation. Finally, center Patrice Bergeron completed the historic comeback with just over 50 seconds remaining when his wrist shot beat Leafs goalie James Reimer, tying the score at four goals apiece.
Lucic, a Boston fan favorite due to his physical play on the ice, attributed the comeback to perseverance.
"It seemed like we started to play more reckless and taking pucks to the net and things like that. It was just like, (forget) it and leave everything on the line and hopefully everything will take care of itself," Lucic told NHL.com.
Bergeron capped off the magical night by collecting a loose puck in the Toronto end and sliding the puck past Reimer just over six minutes into the overtime period, giving the Bruins the series win, four games to three.
The Bruins will now meet the New York Rangers in the NHL's Eastern Conference semifinals. New York staged its own comeback in a quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals, being down three games to two, by winning both Games 6 & 7 on consecutive nights.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was spectacular in both games, not allowing a single goal in either contest. Monday night, five different skaters scored for New York as they blanked Washington, 5-0.
Lundqvist credited the attention he pays to his craft, but noted how well his teammates have been playing in front of him, of late.
"As long as I'm focused on what I have to do, it is going to help me. But the way we've been playing, especially the last two or three games, as a goalie it is a great feeling. You feel the confidence from them, and hopefully they feel my confidence as well," the Rangers goalie said after the game.
The Rangers shut down a potent Capitals offensive attack, led by explosive winger Alex Ovechkin, who led the NHL with 32 goals in the regular season. Ovechkin did not score a single goal in the final five games of the series.
Beginning with Game 1 Thursday night in Boston, the Bruins and Rangers will meet in a playoff series for the first time in 40 years, according to the New York Times. The other Eastern Conference semifinal series features the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins, which begins Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
The NHL's Western Conference semifinals have another pair of 'Original 6' teams, the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, going against one another, beginning Wednesday night in Chicago. Finally, two California teams, the San Jose Sharks and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, will meet in the other Western semifinal, also starting Tuesday night.