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Leafs ousted after 2-1 Game 7 OT loss to Bruins

BOSTON – David Pastrnak scored at 1:54 of overtime as the Boston Bruins downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7 to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Saturday.

Hampus Lindholm scored in regulation and added an assist on the winner for the Bruins, who nearly blew another 3-1 series lead after losing out to the Florida Panthers at the same stage of the post-season last spring.

Jeremy Swayman made 30 saves.

William Nylander replied for the Leafs. Toronto battled back from a deep hole in the series before winning two straight minus ailing star sniper Auston Matthews, but were unable to complete the comeback.

Ilya Samsonov started in net and stopped 29 shots after Joseph Woll, who was outstanding in Games 5 and 6 to help drag his team back into the series, suffered an injury late in the third period of Thursday’s victory that pushed the Original Six matchup to seven.

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Matthews returned to the lineup after getting pulled from Game 4 with an illness and then missing the last two contests with his team facing elimination.

The Bruins will take on the well-rested Panthers in the second round in South Florida beginning Monday.

Pastrnak clinched the series after Lindholm fired a puck off the end boards. The winger won a race and then deked Samsonov to the ice to send the Leafs home.

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Nylander took a pass from Matthews with 10:59 left in regulation and scored his third after Tyler Bertuzzi stole the puck from Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo to give Toronto a 1-0 lead in a tight, defensive affair.

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But Lindholm tied it 1:21 later on a shot shortside on Samsonov after some intense pressure around Toronto’s crease to set TD Garden alight before the teams took it to extra time.

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Woll replaced Samsonov to start the third period of Game 4 and proceeded to give up just two goals in more than 140 minutes of action as Toronto, which entered 1-16 all-time when trailing a series 3-1, roared back to tie the Original Six matchup.

The Bruins had a much better start than in Games 5 and 6 when they combined for just three shots in the first period inside a raucous TD Garden before Leafs defenceman Joel Edmundson crushed Pastrnak with a clean hit.

Samsonov made a nice stop on Jake DeBrusk and survived a sequence without his stick with Boston buzzing.

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Toronto’s best chance came late in the period when Matthew Knies outmuscled DeBrusk for a 50/50 puck and found Nylander, who scored twice in Game 6, in the slot for a chance Swayman snagged.

Boston got the game’s first power play in the second, but Mitch Marner had the best chance when the Bruins netminder gave the puck away behind his net.

The Leafs then dropped to 1-for-21 on a fruitless man advantage of their own before Toronto winger Connor Dewar got a short-handed breakaway Swayman denied.

Knies then got another break out of the box only to see Kevin Shattenkirk take the puck off his stick and send the Toronto rookie crashing to the Boston crease.

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Samsonov then denied Mason Lohrei at the other end to keep the score 0-0 through 40 minutes inside a tense TD Garden.

Pastrnak, who was called out by head coach Jim Montgomery, had a nice chance off their rush seven minutes into the third that Samsonov smothered.

Toronto battled back to force Game 7 despite being without the ailing Matthews for a pair of 2-1 victories, including an overtime road triumph in Game 5.

The Leafs, who won a post-season series for the first time in two decades last spring, were also minus Nylander for the first three contests. The Swede took two games to get his legs before putting up a pair of goals Thursday that helped tie the series and send the teams back to Boston.

Despite the Leafs’ valiant attempt, Toronto has now lost six straight Game 7s — including four straight to the Bruins (2013, 2018, 2019 and 2024).

There will also be questions about the future of head coach Sheldon Keefe after a fourth opening-round exit in five seasons, along with star winger Marner, who has one year left on his contract and can sign an extension July 1.

The Bruins, meanwhile, avoided becoming the first team in NHL history to blow consecutive 3-1 leads and lose after the Panthers did the deed to them 12 months ago to spoil Boston’s record-breaking regular season.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2024.

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&© 2024 The Canadian Press

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