The Boston Bruins have eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs from the playoffs. They took the first round series with a 5-1 Game Seven victory Tuesday.
Boston opened the scoring with two goals in the first period. Joakim Nordstrom had his second goal of the series, while Marcus Johansson scored his first.
Toronto’s John Tavares scored in the second period, but Sean Kuraly put it out of reach early in the third and deflated the Maple Leafs. Charlie Coyle added an empty net goal to seal the deal, marking his third goal of the playoffs, and Patrice Bergeron squeaked one in at the end to give his line eight goals in the series. Bergeron had three goals and five assists against Toronto.
It came down to Boston playing a tighter game and getting a top-tier performance from goalie Tuukka Rask. The Maple Leafs were unequal to the task and didn’t have the right answers for the Bruins, who blocked shots with abandon and made the most of their opportunities.
It was a familiar story. The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs in Game Seven in 2018 as well, only that time around it was a wild 7-4 affair that saw Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen play an uncharacteristically sloppy game.
It could be argued that Andersen again showed his true Game Seven colours Tuesday, as he could have and should have had a few Boston goals. But can he be blamed for the Kuraly goal, a back-breaker that he lost track of?
Rask, 3-2 in Game Seven situations, made 32 saves for the victory and was the better netminder when it mattered most.
And when it mattered most for the Maple Leafs, they couldn’t get it done. Many thought Toronto should have taken the series home on Sunday in Game Six, but Boston battled back for a 4-2 win and positioned themselves for ultimate victory.
What can be said at this point? The more experienced team won and the Maple Leafs, an excellent young hockey club, still have a lot to learn. There’s always more to learn and always more to do and there was, in all honesty, a lot to like about their playoff chances. The series was a close one.
Boston now goes on to face the Columbus Blue Jackets, who climbed Mount Improbable to sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round and have been getting plenty of rest on their way to the second round.
(Photo credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty)