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The Toronto Maple Leafs suffer another heartbreaking Game 7 loss in Boston

The Toronto Maple Leafs season ended suddenly again in a Game 7 in Boston. For the fourth time in eleven years, the Boston Bruins eliminated their Original Six rival in a decisive game.

David Pastrnak scored the game winner less than two minutes into overtime after a diagonal dump-in from defenseman Hampus Lindholm.

A perfect bounce bounced off the stick of the Bruins’ leading scorer, who shot down the right wing. He quickly put a surprised Ilya Samsonov in the Leafs net. Samsonov hesitated to play the puck, giving Pastrnak time and space to make his move.

That set off a celebration at TD Garden as the Bruins took on the Florida Panthers in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the Leafs, it’s another heartbreaking blow to the team and their fans. It was their sixth straight loss in Game 7, four of which came at the hands of the Bruins. Speculation will immediately focus on changes surrounding the Leafs roster and coaching.

The Leafs got some good news before Game 7 started: Rocket Richard winner and Lady Byng nominee Auston Matthews would be in the lineup.

Unfortunately, goaltender Joseph Woll, who helped the Leafs to victories in Games 5 and 6, did not want to dress due to an injury in the previous game.

For a team that played with 13 different defensemen and four goaltenders all year and won the previous two games without Matthews, it was business as usual.

The Leafs withstood a better start from the Bruins and emerged from the first period with a scoreless tie. Toronto carried the game during the second period, but the game remained tied at 0-0 after two.

The Leafs opened the scoring midway through the third period. A good forecheck by Tyler Bertuzzi on Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo resulted in a turnover. Bertuzzi fed Matthews, who went to William Nylander on his wing. He scored his third goal in two games and the Leafs appeared to be on their way to a comeback win in the series.

The Leafs euphoria was short-lived.

Not long after, Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman made a big save on Joel Edmundson. The Bruins took the puck up the ice and surrounded the Leafs on their end. A rolling puck came to Lindholm and his quick wrist shot found the net, high on Samsonov’s blocker side.

The Bruins applied the pressure from there, but the Leafs withstood it and forced overtime.

The extra session didn’t last long. Now the attention turns to the Toronto Maple Leafs and their core of players who have been part of eight unsuccessful postseasons, seven of which ended in the first round.

Speculation will also begin surrounding head coach Sheldon Keefe’s job security.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has a new president. The Toronto Maple Leafs have only had a general manager for a year, which Keefe did not hire.

With another early exit in the spring, it seems unlikely the Leafs will turn it around without significant changes among players, coaching or both.