Bruins force Game 7

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Fac­ing elim­i­na­tion, Bos­ton didn’t panic when it fell be­hind half­way through the first pe­riod. The Bruins kept their fo­cus, quickly tied it and took the lead, and then held off the Toronto Maple Leafs to force a Game 7 in their first-round play­off se­ries.

Brad Marc­hand had two goals and an as­sist as the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 4-2 on

Sun­day.

“We just knew there was a lot of game left,” Marc­hand said. “We’ve come from be­hind a lot this year. We weren’t fazed. We came to­gether, played very hard af­ter that. We played a re­ally good game.”

Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk also scored, and David Pas­tr­nak had two as­sists to help Bos­ton avoid elim­i­na­tion. Tuukka Rask stopped 22 shots.

“(We) gave our­selves an­other op­por­tu­nity for an­other game,” Marc­hand said. “We got to try to repli­cate it. They’re go­ing to come hard. They’ve played re­ally well so far in our build­ing this se­ries.”

Morgan Rielly and Aus­ton Matthews scored for Toronto in a se­ries nei­ther team has man­aged back-to­back vic­to­ries and each has won twice on the road. Fred­erik An­der­sen fin­ished with 37 saves.

“It is what is now,” Maple Leafs for­ward John Tavares said. “We’ve still got a good chance to win this se­ries. That’s what our fo­cus is on now. It’s over with now. Ob­vi­ously we’d love to get it done to­day. It’s not the case.”

The Bruins will host the de­cid­ing game on Tues­day night.

The Maple Leafs, who lost to the Bruins in seven games in both 2013 and last spring, have not ad­vanced to the sec­ond round of the play­offs since 2004.

“You try to for­get the past, whether it’s this se­ries or last year’s se­ries,” DeBrusk said, “and un­der­stand they’re go­ing to come out with ev­ery­thing they’ve got and so are we.”

The win­ner of this se­ries will take on the Colum­bus Blue Jack­ets, who got the East­ern Con­fer­ence’s last wild card and then swept a Tampa Bay Light­ning team that tied an NHL record with 62 vic­to­ries in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Toronto, which took a 3-2 lead in the se­ries thanks to a pa­tient, sti­fling de­fen­sive per­for­mance Fri­day at Bos­ton, is Canada’s last hope of end­ing the coun­try’s 26year Stan­ley Cup drought. The Cal­gary Flames and Win­nipeg Jets were elim­i­nated in their first-round se­ries.

Toronto opened the scoring at 9:42 of the open­ing pe­riod on Rielly’s first of the play­offs. Hav­ing hit the post on an early power play, the de­fense­man took a pass from Wil­liam Ny­lan­der and fired a one-timer short-side along the ice af­ter the Bruins failed to clear the de­fen­sive zone.

Bos­ton tied it on a man ad­van­tage 1:41 later when Marc­hand snapped his third goal of the se­ries on a shot off a scram­bled draw that hit Leafs de­fense­man Ron Hain­sey and beat An­der­sen be­tween the legs.

“When the sea­son’s on the line you want to play hard, you want to leave it all out there,” Marc­hand said. “Some­times it bounces your way, some­times it doesn’t. Luck­ily to­day it bounced our way.”

The Bruins’ power play, which was held in check in Game 5, but was still 5 for 14 com­ing into this game, struck again with 2:58 left in the pe­riod. Krug got a re­bound of Pas­tr­nak’s shot and fired a shot up­stairs on An­der­sen for his first of the post­sea­son.

An­der­sen did well to keep it a one-goal deficit late in the first by mak­ing two hockey-card cal­iber stops on both Pa­trice Berg­eron and Grzel­cyk.

An­der­sen was solid, but could do noth­ing on Bos­ton’s slick goal that made it 3-1. DeBrusk left the puck for David Kre­jci on a 2-on-2 rush be­fore get­ting in­side po­si­tion on Maple Leafs for­ward An­dreas Johns­son and mak­ing a div­ing stab at the re­turn feed at 7:57.

The goal was the first of the play­offs for DeBrusk, who had six goals last spring — with five com­ing against Toronto, in­clud­ing two in Game 7.

“It’s ob­vi­ously nice to get the re­sult we wanted and it was nice to con­trib­ute,” DeBrusk said.

The Maple Leafs pulled within one early in the third as Matthews scored his fifth goal in the last four games as he took a pass from Jake Gar­diner and ri­fled a shot far side on Rask at 4:15. Matthews was held without a point in the first two games of the se­ries, and had just two points in Toronto’s se­v­engame loss to Bos­ton last spring.

Kasperi Ka­pa­nen cut in off the rush seven min­utes into the third, but Rask closed the door on the speedy winger to pre­serve Bos­ton’s lead.

An­der­sen bailed out Rielly af­ter a bru­tal turnover with un­der four min­utes to go, rob­bing Pas­tr­nak of a chance, but Marc­hand scored into an empty net with 1:54 left to seal the win and even the se­ries.

“We’ve got a one-game se­ries against th­ese guys,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said, look­ing ahead to Tues­day. “We’ve got a good group that en­joys be­ing to­gether and plans on hav­ing a good run. … In or­der to do that, we’ve got to go into Bos­ton and win a game.”

NOTES: The 3 p.m. puck drop was some­thing dif­fer­ent for the Maple Leafs, who had just one af­ter­noon game in the reg­u­lar sea­son. The Bruins played 12 day games.

UP NEXT

Game 7 is Tues­day night at Bos­ton.

Nathan Denette / As­so­ci­ated Press

Bos­ton Bruins left wing Brad Marc­hand (63) skates around Toronto Maple Leafs de­fense­man Morgan Rielly ahead of scoring an empty net goal dur­ing the third pe­riod of Game 6 of the NHL first-round play­off se­ries on Sun­day in Toronto.

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