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Game 7 Takeaways: Bruins beat Leafs and will play Panthers in round two

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Game 7 Takeaways: Bruins beat Leafs and will play Panthers in round two

Game 7 Takeaways: Bruins beat Leafs and will play Panthers in round two 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 victory in Game 7 of their first-round series Saturday night at TD Garden. David Pastrnak was the overtime hero with a goal just 114 seconds into overtime. The Bruins went 3-1 in the series at one point, but just like in 2013 and 2018, they finished the job with a Game 7 win over the Leafs.

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

Awaiting the Bruins in the second round are the Florida Panthers, who surprised the B’s in the first round of the 2023 playoffs by overcoming a 3-1 series deficit, including overtime wins in Games 5 and 7 in Boston. The Bruins won all four matchups during the 2023-24 regular season.

Before we look ahead to the second round, here are three takeaways from Bruins-Leafs Game 7.

David Pastrnak steps forward when the B’s needed it most

Pastrnak had a couple of fairly quiet games before Saturday night’s must-see matchup. He had zero points in Games 5 and 6, and made just eight shots in those two games combined.

But he played the role of hero in extra time. Pastrnak gained speed through the neutral zone and Hampus Lindholm recognized it and played the puck perfectly off the boards to give the Bruins a 1-on-1 with Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov.

Pastrnak scored on a dirty deke to give the Bruins a series victory.

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 the last three. The narrative of him not appearing in important playoff games is vague and simply inaccurate. In his career, Pastrnak has 84 points (38 goals, 36 assists) in 84 postseason games.

Bruins show great resilience

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

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

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

But the Bruins withstood the adversity and came away with a big win that extended their season (and perhaps saved their coach’s job). The second round matchup against the Panthers will be very difficult, but the Bruins are well prepared after coming out of this difficult Round 1 series alive.

The Bruins started Swayman for the sixth time in this series.

He wasn’t tested as much early as he was in the last two games, but he still needed to make a couple of good saves, including this stop on William Nylander that came after a turnover in the attacking zone. It was one of Swayman’s eight saves 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 stops came in the third period, shortly after the Leafs scored first. If Swayman doesn’t stop Nylander, Toronto leads 2-0 and will likely win in regulation.

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

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