For the first time since 2021, the Boston Bruins have won a playoff series, and they did it the hard way. 

In a series that was loaded with “history repeating itself” narratives, Boston once again thwarted Toronto’s 3-1 series comeback bid in dramatic fashion with an overtime victory in game seven.

This time, Patrice Bergeron, the banner captain of the night, looked on as David Pastrnak collected a loose puck and beat Ilya Samsonov to win the series.


As sensational as game seven was, the series didn’t need to go this far.


For the second year in a row, the Bruins could clinch the series at home in game five. For the second year in a row, they failed to close the door in overtime. After some questionable lineup tweaks, Boston came out lethargic and registered just two shots on goal in the first period. The Bruins missed passes, fumbled pucks, and failed to generate any sort of offensive momentum.

Toronto skated circles around the Bruins and ate them alive at the faceoff dot. Joseph Woll, Toronto’s new starting goaltender, was barely tested.

Despite some harsh words from Jim Montgomery, the Bruins played worse in game six.

This time, Boston finished the first period with just one shot on goal. Toronto looked every bit of the faster and more skilled team and significantly more confident in front of their goaltender. For the second year in a row, the Bruins couldn’t finish the job on the road either. Once again, they had used up all their mulligans.

If they were going to stop history from repeating itself, they would have to do it the hard way.


By this point, the hockey world had already begun digging the Bruins’s grave. Boston had looked listless, and the Leafs had all the momentum.


Not only was the pattern of the series eerily similar to last year’s collapse against Florida, but it mirrored the 2013 and 2018 series with Toronto as well. Boston’s own struggles were compounded by the fact that Auston Matthews missed both games five and six due to injury but would return for game seven.

However, hours before game seven, the Bruins were handed a lifeline. Joseph Woll was ruled out with an injury, slotting Ilya Samsonov back into the net.

With renewed confidence facing a vulnerable goaltender, Boston fired pucks on the net early and often. The Bruins put twelve shots on goal in the first period after getting just three combined in the first frame of the prior two games.

Despite showing much more urgency and confidence, Boston still struggled to handle the puck properly throughout the night. Charlie McAvoy, in particular, had a few egregious mishandles that gifted Toronto odd-man rushes the other way.

Halfway through the third period, with the score still deadlocked 0-0, Brandon Carlo tripped over his feet and turned the puck over to Auston Matthews, who fed William Nylander to break the ice.


Trailing by one with just ten minutes left, the Bruins knew they needed to win the hard way.


Following Nylander’s goal, Boston out-hit, out-hustled, and out-grinded Toronto for the rest of the game. Hampus Lindholm picked up a loose puck at the dot and beat Samsonov to tie it just 80 seconds later and shift the momentum of the series back into Boston’s favor.

The Bruins lost in this exact same position against Florida last year. This time, it was different.

Just under two minutes into OT, Lindholm fired a stretch pass from center ice down into the corner, where Pastrnak was streaking in with speed to pick up the rebound and beat Samsonov to end the series.

In a twist of irony, Pastrnak’s goal represented Boston’s first series-winning OT goal since 2013…. against the Leafs.

The Bruins did not make it easy for themselves and wasted chance after chance to end the series earlier than they had to. But in the end, all that matters is that they won the series, and they did it the hard way.


The Florida Panthers are waiting, and revenge is on the table. Game One is Monday night.

PHOTO: Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald

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