Maple Leafs Bruins Hockey

David Pastrnak celebrates with Morgan Geekie, left, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo after his overtime goal Saturday night gave the Boston Bruins a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

BOSTON — Boston Bruins Coach Jim Montgomery wanted to do something different with his team heading into a first-round Game 7 matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Bruins were facing the prospect of blowing 3-1 leads in the opening round in back-to-back seasons, and a sense of impending doom hung over the team.

Montgomery hoped a little change of scenery might do the trick. So instead of sleeping in their own beads ahead of the winner-take-all game Saturday night, the Bruins stayed at a hotel and took buses to TD Garden.

“The thinking was, we’re 2-5 at home the last two years in the playoffs, and what’s going to allow us to eliminate the noise?” Montgomery said.

He thought back to a visit he made to the New England Patriots’ spring minicamp last year. There, he spoke with former coach Bill Belichick about the importance of limiting distractions.

“It’s something that stuck with me. And it’s something that I’ve been preaching as the playoffs have been nearing,” he said.


It just may have saved Boston’s season.

The Bruins overcame a deficit to tie Game 7 in the third period, then David Pastrnak scored 1:54 into overtime as the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs, 2-1.

It was the kind of total team performance Montgomery was aiming for since his team took a 3-1 series lead.

It was also a slump-busting night for Pastrnak, who had a team-high four shots on goal after posting just two goals and two assists through six games. His puck handling was integral to jump-starting Boston’s offense in the third period and in overtime.

“A little relief as well,” Pastrnak said. “Obviously, the happiness from the group and sticking together the whole series was unbelievable, and we couldn’t be prouder of ourselves.”

Boston moves into the next round with netminder Jeremy Swayman playing at his highest level of the season. He didn’t allow more than two goals in any game, posting a 1.49 goals-against average.


“He was our best player in the series, and it’s not close,” Montgomery said.

Swayman’s excellence helped Boston narrowly avoid becoming the first NHL, NBA or Major League Baseball team to lose consecutive best-of-seven series after holding a 3-1 lead.

Montgomery said it is an experience he thinks will help the Bruins going forward.

“I think we’re a better team because of what we just went through. Now they know what it takes to push through,” he said. “First round’s the wild, wild west. It usually is. This year, it seems like there’s only two Game 7s. But usually there’s six.”

Next up is another chance at redemption against a Florida Panthers team that rallied from 3-1 down in last year’s first round to send home a Bruins team that set league records for wins and points in the regular season. The second-round series starts Monday night in Sunrise, Fla.

“That’s playoff hockey,” Montgomery said. “Last year had no bearing on how this was going to bear out. We knew that. It’s a storyline, and that’s part of what comes with playoffs. That’s going to happen. But at the end of the day, we did a great job staying in moment, believing in our group. And we came out on top.”

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