May 13, 2013: Down 4-1 in the third period, the Boston Bruins completed one of the most epic comebacks in game 7 history, beating the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime.
Although the Bruins and Leafs entered the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs as 4th and 5th seeds respectively, most analysts anticipated the Bruins’ depth and experience would overpower the Leafs in 5, maybe 6 games.
And those predictions appeared accurate as the Bruins won 3 of the first 4 games, including games 3 and 4 in Toronto.
But stingy defense combined with game-winning-goals by Clarke MacArthur in game 5 and Phil Kessel in game 6 saw the Leafs win back-to-back 2-1 games, tying the series and forcing game 7 at TD Garden in Boston.
As if the series itself wasn’t enough of an emotional roller coaster, no Bruins or Leafs fan will ever forget the chain of events that took place in Game 7!
Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski opened the scoring 5:39 into the first period off a Cody Franson turnover, giving the Bruins the coveted first goal of the game.
But a determined Cody Franson battled back to tie the score at 1 apiece just four minutes later before adding the go-ahead goal just under six minutes into the second period.
But the third period is where things get crazy…
Up 2-1 entering the third, the Leafs came out flying!
Phil Kessel banged home a loose puck in the crease just two minutes and nine seconds into the third for his team-leading 4th goal of the series.
And just over three minutes later, Kessel picked up an assist after he fired a shot off of Tuukka Rask’s pads right to Nazem Kadri‘s stick for a rebound goal to put the Leafs up 4-1 with 14:31 left in regulation.
Milan Lucic and the Boston Bruins knew they needed to get one before the 10-minute mark of the 3rd period to give the team some hope and life.
With just over 10 minutes to play in the third, Lucic rushed the puck wide into the offensive zone and continued behind the Leafs’ net before finding an open Nathan Horton for the Bruins’ second goal of the game, cutting the Leafs lead to 4-2.
The Bruins continued their push but still found themselves down by 2 with two minutes remaining in regulation when the Bruins decided to pull their goalie for the extra attacker.
With less than 90 seconds remaining, Zdeno Chara let a one-time bomb go from the point that Leafs’ netminder James Reimer struggled to contain. Lucic, in his usual net-front position, found and banged home the rebound to make the game 4-3 with 1:22 remaining in regulation, sparking hope in the hometown crowd!
The Bruins took their timeout to catch their breath and draw up their last ditch effort to salvage their season.
Once again with the extra attacker, the Bruins set up an umbrella in the offensive zone with David Krejci and Jaromir Jagr flanking Patrice Bergeron at the top while Zdeno Chara planted a screen in front.
Just 30 seconds after Lucic’s goal, Bergeron fired a seeing-eye-shot past all the Leafs’ shot-blockers, Chara, and the Leafs’ James Reimer to tie the score at 4-4 with 51 seconds remaining in regulation.
Overtime started right where the third period left off with both teams exchanging chances.
But just 6 minutes into the extra period Patrice Bergeron buried a rebound to win the game and series, and complete one of the most epic game 7 comebacks of all time!