There are many ways to describe the Bruins’ improbable Game 7 comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Perhaps Bruins president Cam Neely found the best way to sum it up when recalling that memorable night during Tuesday’s Stanley Cup Final media day.
The Bruins’ unforgettable comeback from being down 4-1 midway through the third period of Game 7 against the Leafs apparently had Neely searching for the right words. He tried to sum that up Tuesday, and he went an interesting direction in doing so.
“I went, from today’s texting world, to the feeling of ‘OMG,’” Neely said at media day when describing the anxious moments from being down, to coming back, to tying the game and then eventually winning in overtime.
“Then when we won in overtime, the same feeling. You’re peeking at the clock. It feels like it’s going down faster than you’d like. But, again, go back to my point earlier about the character of the guys, they didn’t quit, they didn’t give up.”
Neely wasn’t alone in that way of thinking. B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli admitted he almost gave up hope late in Game 7, but he wasn’t quite ready to say “TTYL” to his club.
“Three-goal deficit with half the period left is a tough one,” Chiarelli said. “I’d be lying if I said I thought we were going to definitely come back. Once we scored the second, there was a definite surge. You could see the momentum turning. You’re still kind of sad, you could see us starting to roll, thought we had a chance.”
All it really took was one goal, though. The Bruins’ second goal set the improbable comeback in motion, and momentum really started to swing late in the period. That’s when the Bruins scored their first of two goals with their net empty.
“The only thing we talked about was to see if we could get that next goal,” B’s coach Claude Julien said Tuesday.
Eventually, “that next goal” became Patrice Bergeron‘s game-tying goal with seconds to play in regulation.
“I’ve never really seen anything like that, two empty-net goals,” Chiarelli said. “But you could feel it in the building — at least I could. You could feel the momentum and the surge.”
“Peter is absolutely right; you saw our bench ignite,” added Julien. “All of a sudden everybody was pumped up about getting the next one, pushing each other to go after these guys. There’s no doubt when you score those two goals, it makes a pretty big difference in your team’s outlook moving forward. We came in that dressing room and we looked at each other and there was no doubt we were going to win that game.”
The Bruins eventually won that game when Bergeron’s game-winner in overtime propelled the B’s to the next round, and eventually into the Cup Final on a 9-1 stretch counting that Game 7 comeback win.
“That had a big impact in how we’ve played since then,” Julien understated.
More importantly, it’s the main reason they’re still playing.