Nothing will compare to 2013, but this one came awfully close.
The Boston Bruins erased deficits of 1-0, 2-1 and 4-3 and erupted for four third-period goals on their way to a wild 7-4 victory in Game 7 over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The win — another playoff classic between these Original Six rivals — sends the suddenly battle-tested Bruins into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Game 1 versus the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning is Saturday at 3 p.m. on NBC10 Boston.
For the young Leafs, who held a 4-3 advantage early in the third period, this loss carries plenty of extra baggage. The franchise is still haunted by a Game 7 collapse in 2013 that featured a blown three-goal lead late in the third against Boston that ended in overtime agony.
A lot has changed in five years, especially the team's roster. But TD Garden will remain a house of horrors for the Leafs, thanks to Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk.
Krug tied the game at 4 with a lazer from the point just one minute into the third. Then came DeBrusk minutes later, barelling down the right wing and past Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner. When DeBrusk beat ace goalie Frederik Andersen with a five-hole bid, the momentum had shifted for good and the Bruins were on their way to an unexpected route.
DeBrusk's game-winner at 5:25 of the third was his second goal of the game. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand added insurance strikes for the B's, while goalie Tuukka Rask survived a very shaky start to stop 20 of 24 shots.
The teams rode a seesaw of momentum in the first period.
The game started with a questionable decision by Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who sent out his fourth-line grinders on the opening faceoff. The move immediately backfired when Sean Kuraly was called for tripping just 30 seconds into the game. On the ensuing power play, veteran Toronto forward Patrick Marleau cashed in by deflecting a point shot past Rask at 2:05.
The Bruins answered quickly. DeBrusk's power play tap-in with 4:47 gone in the period tied the game at 1. The teams traded two more goals — a second by Marleau and the first of the playoffs by Bruins rookie Danton Heinen, a healthy scratch in Game 6 — before the B's struck again for a 3-2 lead in the closing minute. At 19:23, Patrice Bergeron batted home a rebound at the goal line after defenseman Kevan Miller intentionally sent a point shot wide of the net. It wasn't the Game 7 start the Bruins had envisioned, but they ended the period with the lead.
The craziness continued into the second. Toronto tied the game 2:07 into the middle frame when Pastrnak blocked defenseman Travis Dermott's shot but couldn’t clear the defensive zone. Dermott grabbed the puck inside the Boston blue line and ripped the equalizer just inside the far post. Toronto grabbed its third and final lead of the game on the penalty kill. With Tomas Plekanec in the penalty box for interference, Marchand misplayed a puck in the Leafs' zone and sprung Kasperi Kapanen for a shorthanded goal at 6:05. Kapanen outhustled Marchand on the rush and then outmanuevered Rask, slipping the puck past the goalie's outstretched left pad for the 4-3 lead.
In just six minutes, the Game 7 had gone sideways for the Bruins. But it was another third period comeback that has the Bruins headed to the second round, while the Leafs are left wondering what might have been — again.