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Bruins pull off OT win over Maple Leafs in Game 7, advance to face Panthers in second round

BOSTON -- Take a deep breath, Boston. The Bruins have survived the Maple Leafs.

Though they needed extra time to get it done, the Bruins beat the Leafs 2-1 in overtime on Saturday night, behind a huge game from goaltender Jeremy Swayman and with the game-winning goal coming off the stick of David Pastrnak just 1:54 into overtime.

Hampus Lindholm -- who scored the Bruins' lone regulation goal -- sent a dump-in into the corner of Toronto's end, and with the puck bouncing to the front of the net, Pastrnak won the race to the loose puck before beating Ilya Samsonov on the backhand to send the 18,000-plus inside TD Garden into a state of delirium.

"Obviously, heck of a moment," Pastrnak told ESPN immediately after the game. "I haven't played great hockey this series, and that's what's the beauty about playoffs. It's about the next play, and we're moving on."

Jeremy Swayman stopped 30 Toronto shots on the night, while Samsonov -- who stepped back in for Joseph Woll, who suffered an injury at the very end of Game 6 -- made 29 saves for Toronto. 

With the win, the Bruins avoided making some ignominious history, beating the Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series on Saturday night.

This one was in a scoreless tie through two periods, with Jeremy Swayman and Ilya Samsonov -- who was starting in place of Joseph Woll, who apparently got injured on Boston's last-second goal in Game 6 -- turning away every shot that came their way.

The Maple Leafs finally broke the scoreless tie with just under 11 minutes remaining in regulation, when Auston Matthews capitalized on a misplay by Brandon Carlo and sent a pass through the slot to William Nylander, who buried his third goal since the second period of Game 6 to give Toronto a lead.

But that lead would last just 81 seconds, as Hampus Lindholm banked in a shot off Samsonov's right shoulder to tie the game at 1-1.

Neither team scored in the remaining time in regulation, leading to the decisive overtime period.

After losing last year's first-round series to the Panthers after leading 3-1 in the series, the Bruins were at risk of becoming the first team not just in NHL history but also in MLB or NBA history to lose two series after holding 3-1 leads in consecutive seasons.

And now, for the first time in three years, the Bruins are moving on to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They're set for a playoff rematch against those Panthers.  

Last year's playoff meeting came after the Bruins had completed the best regular season in NHL history. The Bruins appeared to be on a path to an easy series victory after taking a 3-1 series lead with a 6-2 victory in Game 4 in Florida, but the Panthers won the final three games of the series -- including an overtime win in Game 7 in Boston -- to eliminate the Bruins. Florida ended up reaching the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games.

This year, the Panthers narrowly edged the Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division, but the Bruins went 4-0 against the Panthers during the regular season. (Two of those victories came in overtime.)

As far as the goalies go, Linus Ullmark started three of the Bruins' four games against Florida this season, posting a .947 save percentage and 1.62 goals-against average. Jeremy Swayman, who posted dominant numbers against the Leafs this season and started six of the seven playoff games, allowed three goals on 21 shots in his lone appearance vs. Florida this year.

Last year marked the second straight year that the Bruins failed to advance past the first round, with the Hurricanes eliminating the Bruins in the first round of the 2022 playoffs.

With a hairy series and hectic Game 7 now behind them, the Bruins have no time to gather themselves. Game 1 is Monday night in Sunrise, Florida.

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