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How the Bruins avoided a choke and finished off the Maple Leafs: 5 takeaways

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins are still alive.

After givingAfter blowing a 3-1 series lead in the first round for the second straight season, the Bruins responded Saturday with a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7. David Pastrnak scored the winning goal after coach Jim Montgomery after Game 6 said that “Pasta needs to step up.”

He did. The goal came 1:54 into overtime.

In addition to Pastrnak’s exploits, here are five tips:

Jeremy Swayman was the Bruins’ best player in Round 1. The top goalie, who started six of the seven games, was sharp throughout the series. One of his sharpest Game 7 stops came in the third period, when he pushed from right to left to get in front of Tyler Bertuzzi’s shot off a Mitch Marner feed.

At the end of regulation, after a William Nylander puck slid off Parker Wotherspoon, Swayman scrambled to his left to stop the shot before time ran out.

Swayman looks like an ace for the long haul. He finished Saturday with 30 saves and had a save percentage of .950 in the series.

β€œHe was our best player in the series. Not even close,” Montgomery said. β€œI think his confidence and his swagger permeated the group.”

Stick to structure

The Bruins did not panic after giving up the first goal of the evening to Nylander in the third period on Saturday. The Leafs scored the goal out of bad luck β€” a Brandon Carlo tumble, perhaps aided by Bertuzzi, that gave Toronto numbers attacking the net.

The Bruins kept the pressure on the Leafs. The No. 3 line, playing the puck low, helped Hampus Lindholm score the equalizer just over a minute after Toronto took the lead. Justin Brazeau and James van Riemsdyk were credited with the assists for Lindholm’s equalizer.

β€œIf you look at all the teams that go far and end up winning, they have depth,” Brad Marchand said. β€œThat’s probably the biggest reason we’ve had success this year is because of the depth we have as a group, the way we rely on four lines to get in. Our fourth line got a big goal for us in Game 5. That’s just the way we rely on everyone. Incredible job from them tonight to get us back in the game.”

Better start

The Bruins had nothing in the first period of Game 5, as they were outscored by an 11-2 lead. Things weren’t much better in Game 6. The Leafs had a 12-1 lead over the Bruins after 20 minutes. Both times it set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Things turned around in Game 7. The Bruins were the better team in the opening period. They defeated the Leafs 11-8. Lindholm led the charge with four pucks on net. Even though the Bruins didn’t score, the better effort gave them life to continue the rest of the game.

β€œWe started on time,” Montgomery said. β€œWe were not denied access to the net. We were breaking out pucks well. We’ve done that in the game. But the speed at which we played, especially offensively. Then the way we held onto the pucks and the way our defensemen were involved. We were really connected as five guys in all three zones, especially with the puck.”

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It just so happened that the team’s most experienced player had the puck on his stick in front of the net during overtime. Pastrnak wouldn’t miss. The right wing, challenged by his coach after Game 6, slipped a backhander past Ilya Samsonov to propel the Bruins to Round 2.

β€œObviously there’s a lot of excitement,” Pastrnak said. β€œYou could also say a little relief. It was a match that was closely controlled. So it was nice to get it.”

Pastrnak had four shots in 21:21 of ice time. With Pavel Zacha as left winger and Morgan Geekie in the middle, Pastrnak looked a little more like himself during regulation. He looked like Superman in overtime.

Hampus Lindholm has an impact on the offense

Montgomery deployed Lindholm as a shutdown presence in Round 1. Lindholm and Carlo started the series against Auston Matthews. They played Game 7 against Matthew Knies, John Tavares and Nylander, Toronto’s No. 1 line, with Matthews not playing himself.

But Lindholm also scored a goal and an assist to help the Bruins win. On his goal, Lindholm waited for an opening before firing a third-period shot past Samsonov. On Pastrnak’s winner, Lindholm reached the red line, saw Pastrnak swinging with speed and put the puck in the corner. Pastrnak took over from there.

β€œHampus was assertive tonight,” Montgomery said. β€œHe played on his toes. When he plays on his toes… (Nylander) flew, he meets him in the post, he shuts him down. He’s such a good defender. Then you saw the balance.

(Photo: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)