It might have felt different, but in the end, it was the same. 

Game 7 in Boston goes to overtime, and the Leafs lose. 

Your game in 10:

1.   There was mixed news before this game. Joseph Woll did not dress, Ilya Samsonov was surprisingly the starter, and Auston Matthews returned. To adjust, Sheldon Keefe kept the top two lines together and took out Nick Robertson for Matthews, reconfiguring the bottom six group to Holmberg – Matthews – Jarnkrok and Dewar – Kampf – Gregor.

The top two lines earned the opportunity to start together, and Matthews was slotted between two players he’s familiar with. The Dewar-Kampf duo needed to remain together; it wouldn’t have made any sense to place Robertson beside them. You could make an argument for Ryan Reaves to reunite that line, but he has cost them a few goals in this series, and going into Game 7 with Samsonov in net, it’s fair to want a better player in possession of the puck.

It caused some matchup issues for the Bruins on paper as they lined up Trent Frederic against Matthews, forcing the Bruins to play their Lindholm – Carlo pairing even more than usual. After the first period, Kevin Shattenkirk was pacing for roughly a minute less per game than he has played so far this series as the Bruins were forced to shift things around a bit more to ensure they had certain personnel on the ice against Matthews.

2.    All that said, the Bruins came out with pace and a far more aggressive game—a new goalie in net surely gave them some life. In previous games, they were all too content to run a 1-3-1 through the neutral zone and trap things up, waiting to counterattack, but to start this game, they put pucks and bodies in deep, forechecking hard and looking to create a turnover.

Samsonov made the first big save of the game on a JVR chance off the rush as he drove Timothy Liljegren wide. The Tavares line responded with a good shift of zone time–the Leafs‘ first really good shift of the game from their best line of the period. They created a few chances and generated some good zone time.

As the Bruins moved back up ice afterward, the Bruins tried getting a cycle going, and Joel Edmundson ran over Pastrnak, who was looking to spin out from behind the net. Early on in the game, though, the crowd was going, and the Bruins were feeding off of the energy. Samsonov needed to stand tall.

DeBrusk made a spin-and-shoot play in the high slot, which Samsonov stopped with a good kick save. Samsonov also stopped Geekie, who came out from behind the net after a weird bounce.

The Leafs were very much feeling out the game. Matthews had a tentative first shift and was better in his second shift, but he slowly got better as the period went on. Simon Benoit iced the puck on one play and bailed out his own mistake by diving to block a shot. The early top line (with Domi on it) didn’t have anything going on, and Keefe eventually put together a Bertuzzi – Matthews – Marner line for an offensive-zone shift. They created offense and zone time. On the next shift with Domi on the line, he tried a cross-ice pass just outside the blue line for a turnover instead of sticking to the dump-and-chase game that has been working for the Leafs.

It was not rolling early on. The Bruins put 11 shots on net in the period — all at even strength, as there were no penalties either way — which was their most 5v5 shots in a period this series and tied their total shot output of their last three first periods combined.

3.   A big story for the Leafs early on in this game: They couldn’t break out, and they weren’t forechecking well. Even when they got it deep, the Bruins made lots of quick-ups and were able to get the puck going the other way quite easily. On the other side, the Bruins took away the walls on the breakout, and on multiple occasions, the Leafs’ defensemen were stuffed. You have to either make a pass on the tape, go off the glass and over, or pass it back to your partner on the other side of the ice.

All of that said, it was a road period against a fired-up home team, and the Leafs came out of it tied 0-0. In the final few minutes of the period, they started building some good shifts. Matthew Knies won a battle (it was a good no-call as the defenseman toe-picked) and set up Nylander in the high slot for the Leafs’ best chance of the period. The Domi line with Marner and Bertuzzi created a good shift with a Domi shot from the high slot. They also double-shifted Marner with Matthews and Holmberg, and they had a good shift in the offensive zone as well.

Shot attempts were 22-20 in the period. It wasn’t great, but the Leafs weathered the storm early on and kept themselves in it.

4.   Instead of building on their finish to the period, the Leafs were off their game to start the second. The Bruins promptly went on a 3v2 on the first shift of the period, but Knies made a good back check to mitigate the scoring chance. A few shifts later, the Leafs iced it as Bertuzzi couldn’t deflect the puck, and Liljegren took a penalty off the draw.

To the Leafs’ credit, though, they pulled off a great kill, continuing to swarm the Bruins power play with aggressive pressure and preventing the Bruins on the point from having all day to make decisions as they did earlier in the series. The Bruins didn’t create much off of it, and then when the kill ended, Marner had a chance at an empty net after Swayman misplayed the puck behind the net. Marner rounded the net instead of stopping and tucking it in.

When the penalty ended, the Leafs went down the ice and the refs called a rather soft penalty as Coyle knocked down Domi. On came the Leafs’ full first unit, and when they won the draw, they were dangerous, including a chance by Tavares in front that Carlo deflected away. The issue was that when the Bruins eventually cleared it, the Leafs’ entry again went up the Tavares side. As has been the case the entire series, the Bruins pressured him, and he made a poor read. It is the single easiest thing the Leafs did not adjust to all series. The Bruins pressured Tavares on the entry and took away the drop pass to the point (which is what the Leafs want). Tavares froze up and gave it away.

It has to be a far-side rim, or the Leafs need to break in on the other side. They refuse to do either to this point. After the failed entry, the second power-play unit with McCabe, Domi, Bertuzzi, Knies, and Jarnkrok came on. They generated a great shift in the offensive zone, throwing a few pucks to the net and creating traffic, but nothing forced Swayman to make a spectacular save. They continued pressuring after the power play, though, which resulted in the Bruins icing the puck. The Leafs couldn’t capitalize against a tired group.

5.   A few minutes afterward, the Bruins went on their second power play of the game. The referee behind the play made a really bad call—frankly, one that should not have been made by someone in that position, especially when the closer-by referee did not call it. It’s really poor officiating.

To the Leafs’ credit, though, they dug in yet again and created the best chance on the power play as Connor Dewar broke in on a breakaway but lost the handle as he was pressured, preventing him from getting a strong shot off. Calle Jarnkrok also made an awesome play on the penalty kill, reading a McAvoy pass to Pastrnak for a one-timer and picking it off for a clear.

After the Leafs killed the penalty, Knies came out of the box with a chance for a breakaway. He tried to make a power move to the net, but the puck was deflected and he was tripped. It’s not a penalty shot, but it is a trip by definition. You can’t trip a player even if you touch the puck first. But the Leafs did keep the pressure up, and moments later, Nylander was in all alone on Swayman on a broken play, but he was standing still and tried to pull it around him. Swayman stood tall.

6.   The Bruins carried a slight edge in play in the first period, and the Leafs responded in the second by owning an edge play themselves due to the power play they created, even though the Bruins went to two power plays to the Leafs’ one. At the same time, Morgan Rielly also likely saved a goal by deflecting a pass to Marchand, who was all alone at the backdoor.

Toward the end of the period, the Domi line generated a really good shift of pressure, and again, Marner had a chance to drive the net but elected to try to pass instead. He was pulling high in the offensive zone all night and was dangerous in that spot—and he created some good looks in general—but he had a few chances to take it hard to the net and didn’t.

On the shift of extended pressure, the Leafs got an offensive-zone change going and had possession against a tired Bruins team, but Rielly gave the puck away instead of passing to a wide-open Liljegren, which not only allowed the Bruins to get out of the zone, but they also got a scoring chance going back the other way.

Rielly was a legitimate difference-maker last year, and while he wasn’t bad necessarily, he certainly wasn’t a difference-maker in the playoffs. Most notably, he looked slow.

7.   It was a tentative start to the third, particularly for the Leafs. Neither team had much of anything going for nearly half the period, but the Leafs weren’t sustaining any sort of pressure, and it was mainly the Bruins attempting to forecheck while the Leafs flipped the puck out to center ice.

On their first real pressure of the period, the Leafs got a fortunate break as Brandon Carlo blew a tire with possession, and the Bruins went up ice to break out. Bertuzzi poked the puck to Matthews, who had a down-low 2v1 with Nylander, and he froze Swayman before sliding it over to Nylander, who had nothing but net to shoot at and buried. The Bruins defended well in this game and didn’t give the Leafs much, so it was nice to see them make them pay when they finally got a great look.

8.   Unfortunately, the Leafs’ lead didn’t even last a minute and a half. After they scored, they put out the Tavares line, and they actually had a 3v2 right away. Marner slid it into Edmundson, who drove the net. He was all alone, deflecting the pass for a good chance, but Swayman made a nice save.

The fourth line came out and got dominated for a shift. The main play on the goal came from Noah Gregor, who possessed the puck with a second on the wall to chip it out but opted to hold it and try to make a play. It was turned over, and the rest, as they say, is history. He didn’t play again in the third period afterward. Gregor generated great energy in the first playoff game he played, but he followed it up with a poor game other than one chance off a set faceoff play on a defensive-zone faceoff where he took off.

As Boston pressured, the puck went in front, and the Bruins put it over the net on a sprawling Samsonov. It went from behind the goal line to the point, which is where the Bruins created offense all night. Lindholm had time and space to find a gap and just flicked the puck short side high.

It wasn’t exactly a rip or a snipe; Lindholm found a crease and threaded it through. It’s a tough save through traffic, but you wish Samsonov challenged it more aggressively or that someone found a way to block it.

9.   The third period did open up a bit afterward, and so did the intensity. Samsonov made a good post-to-post save on a Brazeau wrap-around attempt while the Leafs almost scored at the buzzer as Nylander tried finding Holmberg with a cross-ice pass, and it deflected off Wotherspoon, forcing Swayman to make a big save.

Heading into overtime, the Leafs were jumbling their lines a bit. Domi didn’t have much going on, and even though he started on the top line, Matthews played more than two minutes more than Domi in regulation. Nylander led all Leafs forwards at that point with 20:45 and was their most dangerous player.

Rielly and McCabe were the Leafs’ top two defensemen in ice time, as per usual, but it was Benoit who was third, playing 19:56 in regulation. Again, his size and length were a real issue for the Bruins, and what doesn’t get enough credit is his skating. He is a good skater, but it doesn’t always seem that way because of his lack of skill with the puck. “Big and fast” goes a long way.

It was a tad surprising to see Holmberg up at 13:13—notably more than Jarnkrok’s 10:36. The Leafs were mixing and matching their lines other than the Knies—Tavares—Nylander line, basically, as they were consistently solid.

10.   Overtime happened, and it didn’t last long—not even two minutes. It was just a dump-in by the Bruins on the far side. Pastrnak came streaking in, and Samsonov played it extremely poorly. It bounced off the corner, Ilya Samsonov stood and watched, and Morgan Rielly was extremely slow skating back to the puck. I don’t know why Rielly looked so slow all series, but it is the reality.

Pastrnak was in all alone, and he made a nice move; he’s one of the best goal-scorers in the world. The play never should have happened, but he made them pay. Series over.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts