Early goals help lift Bruins beat Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) - Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly each had a goal and assist, Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots and the Boston Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7 on Tuesday night to wrap up their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Marcus Johansson added his first goal of the postseason for Boston and Charlie Coyle scored on an empty netter late in the third. Patrice Bergeron also had a late goal.
It is the Bruins' second straight Game 7 win over the Maples Leafs and third in three playoff matchups between the teams. Boston previously knocked Toronto out of the postseason with Game 7 victories in 2018 and 2013. The Maple Leafs have now lost six straight road Game 7s.
Boston advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals where it will meet the Columbus Blue Jackets.
John Tavares had Toronto's goal on an assist by Tyler Ennis. Frederik Andersen finished with 27saves.
The Maple Leafs' loss means there are no Canadian teams remaining in the playoffs. Calgary and Winnipeg previously lost their first-round series.
The Bruins led 2-1 after two periods and needed just 2:40 of the third to add to it.
Toronto forced action in Boston's defensive zone before it was poked out near the center of the ice and controlled by Kuraly. He promptly split between Tavares and Ron Hainsey, crossed in front of Morgan Rielly and fired a wrist shot past Andersen to give the Bruins a two-goal edge.
Boston came up empty on multiple early shot attempts before its fourth line broke through with the first goal of the night.
Joakim Nordstrom found a small seam left open by Andersen and slipped the puck past him to put the Bruins up 1-0 with 5:31 left in the first period. Matt Grzelcyk and Kuraly got assists.
A little over two minutes later Toronto's Jake Gardiner gave it away behind his own net after being forechecked by Karson Kuhlman. Johansson controlled the puck, spun in front and fired a quick shot just inside the left post to make it 2-0.
Toronto struck back at 3:54 of the second. Ennis jarred the puck loose with his forecheck on Grzelcyk. The puck found its way to Tavares, who punched through his second goal of the playoffs to pull the Maple Leafs to 2-1.
Toronto got a one-man advantage with 11:38 left in the second after Brandon Carlo was called for a cross check on Andreas Johnsson. Boston's defense stepped up, dodging eight Maple Leafs shot attempts to notch the penalty kill.
Tempers flared briefly just before the end of the period after Toronto was called for an offside. But a potential fight was quickly broken up.
It happened again in front of the Maple Leafs' bench just after time expired in the second. Brad Marchand and Auston Matthews were in the middle of the scrum. It, too, was brief and ceased after only some mild shoving.
The offensive aggression from Game 6 carried over to Game 7, with both teams combining for eight shots on goal in first seven minutes.
One of the best early runs was by the Maple Leafs midway through the opening period.
Mitchell Marner weaved his way through Boston's defense on a one-man rush and got off a clean shot from just outside the faceoff circles. But Rask had plenty of time to set up and was there to corral it. He also stopped two other close attempts by Marner.
NOTES: The Bruins improved to 15-12 in Game 7s (14-8 at home). Toronto falls to 12-12 in Game 7s (5-11 on the road). . Tavares' goal in the second period was his first-ever Game 7 goal in his second such contest. His first came for the Islanders in the first round at Washington in 2015.
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