BOSTON — From his perch on the ninth floor, Peter Chiarelli looked down on the ice at what he feared were the last few minutes of the Bruins’ season.
Boston’s general manager saw his team fall behind by three goals with less than 15 minutes left in Game 7.
“I was angling for disappointment,” he said yesterday, “preparing the next few days what I was going to do.”
Getting ready for the Eastern Conference semifinals probably wasn’t high on his list.
Then the Bruins scored three goals in the last 11 minutes of regulation. And when Patrice Bergeron, who had scored the tying goal, fired home the game-winner at 6:05 of overtime, disappointment turned to delirium.
Boston beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Monday night, becoming the first team in NHL history to win a Game 7 after trailing by three goals in the third period, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“In that last half of that third period, our guys came together and you could see a push that I hadn’t seen in a long time,” Chiarelli said.
Not in the previous two games when Boston scored just two goals as Toronto turned a 3-1 series deficit into a 3-3 tie. And certainly not for most of Monday’s game.
But the Bruins refocused, finally got traffic in front of Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer and relentlessly pressured Toronto’s defense. Now a series that seemed so improbable is a reality. The Bruins open another best-of-seven series at home against the New York Rangers tomorrow.
“I think you could really look on what these guys did during the last bit in the third period and overtime as a building block and you hope that they seize it,” Chiarelli said. “My belief is that playoffs are about momentum. I know people say that they’re not, but I mean you can get what I call ‘mojo.’ You can get it, and you can carry it and have it and that’s how you get on a roll.”