David Pastrnak scores in overtime to lift Bruins to Game 7 win over rival Maple Leafs


David Pastrnak's OT winner sends TD Garden into a frenzy in Game 7

David Pastrnak sends the Bruins faithful home happy with a spectacular game-winning goal in overtime to close out the Maple Leasfs in Game 7.

BOSTON -- — With the Boston Bruins' season on the brink and the team's top scorer mired in a scoring slump, coach Jim Montgomery didn't hesitate to publicly challenge David Pastrnak to do more in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It helped bring out some of his best hockey at the perfect moment.

Pastrnak scored on a feed from Hampus Lindholm 1:54 into overtime and the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7 on Saturday night to clinch their first-round series and advance in the NHL playoffs.

“He’s trying to bring the best out of every single player. He expects more," Pastrnak said. "I admitted I needed to be better.”

It was redemption for Pastrnak, who entered the night with two goals and two assists through the first six games.

“I thought he was dynamic tonight,” Montgomery said.

Jeremy Swayman finished with 30 saves and Lindholm had the tying goal in regulation to help the Bruins avoid losing their second straight first-round series after holding a 3-1 lead. They have now defeated the rival Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs three times in the last seven years.

“This was our best game of the series," Montgomery said. “This was the opportunity to seize the moment and be a difference maker.”

Boston will meet the Florida Panthers, who upset the Bruins in seven games in the first round last year and spoiled a season in which they posted NHL records for the most wins and points in a season. Game 1 is set for Monday night in Florida. The Panthers have been resting since Tuesday, when they eliminated Tampa Bay in five games.

William Nylander scored and Auston Matthews had an assist in his return from a two-game absence for the Maple Leafs, who are now 0-6 in Game 7s since the 2013 conference quarterfinals. They are 0-4 on the road in those games – all in Boston. Matthews missed Games 5 and 6 with an undisclosed ailment.

He declined to elaborate on what sidelined him.

“I don't think there was any doubt we could get to this point and climb our way back into the series,” Matthews said. “It was really hard to watch those two games. But just really proud of how the guys to fight and battle back and give ourselves a chance."

Ilya Samsonov started in goal for the first time since Game 4 and finished with 29 saves. James van Riemsdyk and Justin Brazeau also had assists.

“It’s a tough one to lose. Tough way to go," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said.

He was appreciative of the effort Matthews made to be on the ice.

“He did all he could to get himself ready and to be ready and to play at less than 100%," Keefe said. "He wanted to be there.”

Samsonov got the nod in place of Joseph Woll, who was ruled out prior to the game for what the team said was an injury he sustained in Game 6.

Samsonov allowed 12 goals over the first four games. Woll stepped in and gave up just two in Toronto’s Game 5 and 6 victories.

The Maple Leafs broke the scoring drought at 9:01 of the third period when Matthews corralled a loose puck that was mishandled by Tyler Bertuzzi in the zone and flipped it to a cutting Nylander, who beat Swayman for his third goal of the series.

But the Bruins responded just over a minute later when Lindholm muscled in a ricochet in front of the net to tie it back up at 1-all.

The Bruins had plenty of good luck charms inside TD Garden for Game 7.

Retired captain Patrice Bergeron waved the Bruins’ flag prior to the game. Celtics star Jayson Tatum and coach Joe Mazzulla were also in attendance and shown on the video screen, drawing a loud ovation.

The extra energy in the building found its way to the ice.

The Bruins were on the attack early on, holding an 11-8 edge through the opening 20 minutes after being outshot 23-3 during the first period over Games 5 and 6.


AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL