Game 7 takeaways: Bruins beat Leafs, will play Panthers in second round

Game 7 takeaways: Bruins beat Leafs, will play Panthers in second round originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON — The Bruins have punched their ticket to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in three years.

The B’s eliminated the rival Toronto Maple Leafs with a 2-1 overtime win in Game 7 of their first-round series Saturday night at TD Garden. David Pastrnak was the hero in overtime with a goal just 114 seconds into the extra period. The Bruins had a 3-1 series at one point, but just like 2013 and 2018, they finished the job with a Game 7 win over the Leafs.

Boston has now defeated its Original Six rivals in the first round four times (2013, 2018, 2019, 2024) this century. The Bruins also have set an NHL record with 16 Game 7 victories all time, passing the Montreal Canadiens. The Leafs also have now lost six straight Game 7s.

Waiting for the Bruins in the second round is the Florida Panthers, who upset the B’s in the first round of the 2023 playoffs by overcoming a 3-1 series deficit, including overtime victories in Games 5 and 7 in Boston. The Bruins won all four matchups during the 2023-24 regular season.

Before we look ahead to the second round, here are three takeaways from Bruins-Leafs Game 7.

David Pastrnak steps up when B’s needed him most

Pastrnak had a pretty quiet couple of games entering Saturday night’s must-win matchup. He had zero points in Games 5 and 6, while also tallying just eight shots over those two games combined.

But he played the role of hero in overtime. Pastrnak built up speed through the neutral zone and Hampus Lindholm recognized it and played the puck perfectly off the boards to give the Bruins right wing a 1-on-1 with Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov.

Pastrnak scored on a filthy deke to give the Bruins a series win.

Pastrnak finished the series with five points (three goals, two assists) in seven games. He has now scored in four of his six career Game 7s, including each of his last three. The narrative that he doesn’t show up in important playoff games is lazy and just inaccurate. For his career, Pastrnak has 84 points (38 goals, 36 assists) in 84 postseason games.

Bruins show great resilience

There was a ton of pressure on the Bruins in this game. They could have been the first team in NHL, MLB or NBA playoff history to squander a 3-1 series lead in back-to-back seasons. They also had lost three consecutive Game 7s and six straight closeout games. They were on home ice, too.

Even after the Leafs opened the scoring at 9:01 of the third period, the Bruins didn’t panic. They attacked the Toronto zone and finally broke through when Hampus Lindholm beat Ilya Samsonov up high with a perfect shot. It was Lindholm’s first goal in 18 career playoff games with the B’s.

The Bruins hadn’t won an overtime playoff game since Game 3 of the second round in 2021. They had lost three straight.

But the Bruins weathered the adversity and pulled out a massive win that extended their season (and maybe saved their coach’s job). The second round matchup versus the Panthers will be very tough, but the Bruins are well-prepared after coming out of this difficult Round 1 series alive.

The Bruins started Swayman for the sixth time this series.

He wasn’t tested as much early on as the last two games, but he still needed to make a couple good saves, including this stop on William Nylander that came off a turnover in the attacking zone. It was one of eight saves for Swayman in the first period.

Swayman kept the Bruins in the game as their offense struggled to score. He finished with 30 saves on 31 shots (.968 save percentage). One of his best saves came in the third period soon after the Leafs scored first. If Swayman doesn’t make this stop on Nylander, Toronto goes up 2-0 and probably wins in regulation.

Swayman posted an impressive .950 save percentage in six starts against the Leafs, and he allowed just two or fewer goals in all of them. You could make a case that Swayman was the best goalie in the entire playoffs for Round 1. He was easily the Bruins’ most valuable and most outstanding player in the series.

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