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Bruins defeated Leafs and will play against Panthers in the second round

Game 7 takeaways: Bruins beat Leafs, 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 extra time with a goal just 114 seconds into extra time. The Bruins had a 3-1 run at one point, but like 2013 and 2018, they finished the job with a Game 7 win over the Leafs.

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

Awaiting the Bruins in the second round are 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 games during the 2023-2024 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 needs him most

Pastrnak had a pretty quiet stretch of matches heading into Saturday night’s battle. He had zero points in Games 5 and 6, while also hitting just eight shots over those two games combined.

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery called out Pastrnak after Game 6. He said the superstar forward “needs to step up” in Game 7.

Pastrnak accepted the challenge and delivered overtime. He built up speed through the neutral zone, Hampus Lindholm recognized it and played the puck perfectly off the boards to set up the Bruins right wing for a 1-on-1 with Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov.

Pastrnak scored on a dirty 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 about him not appearing in important playoff games is lazy and just plain inaccurate. For his career, Pastrnak has 84 points (38 goals, 46 assists) in 84 postseason games.

Bruins shows great resilience

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

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

The Bruins had not won an overtime playoff game since Game 3 of the second round in 2021. They had lost three in a row.

But the Bruins overcame the adversity and pulled off a huge victory that extended their season (and perhaps saved their coach’s job). The matchup against the Panthers in the second round will be very tough, but the Bruins are well prepared after coming out of this tough Round 1 series alive.

The Bruins started Swayman for the sixth time this series.

He wasn’t tested as much early on as he was in the last two games, but he still had to make some good saves, including this stop on William Nylander, coming off a goal in the offensive 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, shortly after the Leafs scored first. If Swayman doesn’t make this stop on Joel Edmundson, Toronto goes up 2-0 and likely wins in regulation.

Swayman posted an impressive .950 save percentage in six starts against the Leafs, allowing just two or fewer goals in all cases. You could argue that Swayman was the best goaltender in the entire playoffs for Round 1. He was easily the Bruins’ most valuable and standout player in the series.

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