The Bruins failed to eliminate the Maple Leafs in back-to-back opportunities, falling 2-1 in Game 6. Instead, they will host Toronto in the decisive Game 7 on Saturday night at TD Garden.

Boston has struggled to start on time, and the Leafs sent a message in the first 20 minutes of the game by outshooting the Bruins 12-1 in the period.

“It was a tight game. They play well every game,” Brad Marchand told reporters after the loss, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “They are prepared to play first shift, and we need to be better in that area. I think we started as good or better than them.”

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery was incised with his team’s start in Game 5 and his frustration carried over into the beginning of Game 6.

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“It’s unacceptable our start again,” Montgomery told reporters, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “We got to find a way to start on time, and we just got to be better. Toronto started on time. They’re getting the advantage. They have the momentum, and I thought the last 30 minutes we pushed back really well, but it shouldn’t take that long.”

Even with the slow start, Montgomery thought Boston played more to its standard in the second half of Game 6.

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“We were a much better hockey team tonight than we were in Game 5,” he said. “I didn’t recognize the team in Game 5. The last 30 minutes, I recognized our team, and that’s what we’re gonna have to build off.”

Even though Boston risks becoming the first team in NHL history to lose a best-of-seven series after being up 3-1 in consecutive postseasons, Montgomery said the Bruins are not allowing last season to creep into their minds.

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“We’re not worrying about, we’re not living in the past. We’re not living in the future either. We’re living in the present,” Montgomery said. “Right now we’re not happy with our game. We’re gonna get ready for Game 7 starting tomorrow.”

Montgomery also pointed out that the team needs its stars, especially David Pastrnak, to step up in Game 7.

“Your best players need to be your best players this time of year,” Montgomery said. “I think the effort is tremendous, and they need to come through with some big-time plays and big-time moments. I think Marchand has done that in the series. Pasta needs to step up.”

Here are more notes from Thursday’s Bruins-Maple Leafs Game 6:

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— Jeremy Swayman made his fourth straight start in the series. He made 24 stops on 26 Toronto shots for his second loss but still posted a .923 save percentage. Despite the loss, Swayman still held his positive outlook heading into the decisive Game 7.

“I think we all understand that in the playoffs, every game is a Game 7,” Swayman told reporters, per team-provided video. “That’s the intensity that we want to bring every night, and when we do get to an actual Game 7, it should be another day in the office for us because we prepared the right way. We’re expecting their best and we’re expecting our best. That’s what makes Game 7 so fun and so special.”

— William Nylander’s two goals in the Toronto win broke a 13-game goal drought dating back to March 26 of the regular season. He became just the fourth player in Maple Leafs history to account for each of the team’s goals to stave off elimination, per NHL Public Relations.

— The Bruins and Leafs will battle in the decisive Game 7 for the fourth time since 2013. Boston defeated Toronto in 2013, 2018 and 2019 to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Bruins went on to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and 2019.

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— The Bruins will once again have the opportunity to send the Leafs packing on Saturday night. Puck drop from TD Garden is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on ABC.

Featured image via Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images