EditorsNote: adds quotes from Babcock and Chara
The Toronto Maple Leafs earned an emotional victory for their city on Monday night, and they kept their season going in the process.
Hours after a van struck and killed 10 pedestrians and wounded many others in Toronto, the host Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 3-1 in Game 6 to force a seventh game in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Mitchell Marner scored the go-ahead goal, his second of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, in the second period, and William Nylander (first playoff goal) and Tomas Plekanec (second) also scored for Toronto. Frederik Andersen made 32 saves.
Jake DeBrusk had his third goal of the playoffs for the Bruins. Boston’s Tuukka Rask had 27 saves.
Game 7 is Wednesday in Boston. The winner of that game will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference semifinals.
Toronto trailed the series 3-1 after losing Game 4 at home but rallied for a 4-3 road win Saturday in Game 5. The Maple Leafs are trying to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, “We think we’re going to win. We’ve thought that all along. We started poorly and crawled our way back. Now, you have the opportunity of a lifetime. This is what we talked about. Tonight, this is fun, this is where you want to be.”
Boston hasn’t played in round two of the playoffs since 2013-14.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of heading to Game 7, “It’s all about one game. It’s one game and you’ve got to be ready for your best game.”
After a scoreless first period, DeBrusk put the Bruins ahead 1-0 only 1:02 into the second, beating Andersen with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle.
The Maple Leafs answered almost immediately. Nylander sent a rebound past Rask at 1:37 after Nikita Zaitsev threw the puck in from the blue line.
Toronto had a goal waved off with 16:56 left in the second after Zach Hyman’s skate caught Rask’s gear and pulled the goalie out of position. The Bruins challenged for goaltender interference, and the tally was overturned.
Marner backhanded in the go-ahead goal through Rask’s five hole with 6:35 left in the middle period.
“Obviously, I mean the news that we heard when most of us woke up from our (pregame) nap was devastating,” Marner told NBC Sports Network after the game. “We’re wishing all the families, we’re giving our love to them. But you want to come in here tonight and make sure we played the game we wanted to, and I think we did.”
Plekanec scored an empty-netter with 1:14 remaining in the third.
The team that scored first had won every game in the series before Monday.
Before the game, the Maple Leafs and Bruins came together on the ice for a moment of silent to remember to victims of Monday’s tragedy. The crowd joined the national anthem singer in a moving rendition of “O Canada.”
—Field Level Media