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Friday, November 8, 2013
Bruins, Leafs set to get reacquainted

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- It can be considered one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But the Boston Bruins' 5-4 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals May 13 at TD Garden has no bearing on Saturday's game between the two teams. No doubt the visiting Maple Leafs will have a little extra motivation given what happened in the final 90 seconds of regulation in Game 7, when the Bruins scored two goals in a span of 31 seconds to tie the contest and send it into overtime.

When Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron scored at 6:05 of OT, it capped one of the most insane comebacks in history. That moment was a turning point for the Bruins, and they eventually reached the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Bergeron
Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara celebrate after stunning the Leafs in Game 7 on May 13.

"It's one of those games that feels good to think about," Bergeron said of Game 7 against Toronto. "The way we stayed resilient and showed character to come back and tie it and then win it. We're expecting them to definitely have some extra jump for us and we need to make sure we're ready for that."

As incredible of a moment it was beating the Maple Leafs in Game 7, the Bruins admit they haven't spent too much time reflecting on that series.

"I haven't relived it, to be honest with you," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "You talk about turning the page and we need to turn the page on this. It's one of those situations where I've got to look at what's ahead of us and we play Toronto [Saturday]. It's got nothing to do with the playoffs, it has everything to do with a division rival."

For now, it's more important for Boston to focus on the current Maple Leafs, because they are playing well and pose a real challenge. The Bruins are 2-3-1 in their past six games and are trying to get on one of their typical winning streaks. Boston is coming off a 4-1 victory over the lowly Florida Panthers on Thursday night at the Garden, but the Maple Leafs will be a much tougher opponent.

Toronto edged the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in a shootout on Friday night at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs are 16-5-0 for 22 points in the Atlantic Division entering Saturday's game in Boston. The Bruins trail with a 9-5-1 record for 19 points.

"I'm sure it's going to be a tough game," said Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. "They have a good team and they're proving to be one of the top teams in the league. No matter what happened last year, it's still going to be a tough game for us."

Saturday's game between the Original Six clubs at TD Garden will be the first since that historic Game 7. As much as the Bruins would rather focus on this season, Game 7 against the Maple Leafs will always be an interesting topic to discuss, in light of Boston's surreal comeback to win in overtime after trailing 4-1 in the final 10 minutes of regulation. The image of Bergeron jumping up and down on his skates in celebration will never be forgotten in Boston.

"We were kind of surprised at some level," Rask said. "You always believe you can come back, but then when you're down by three goals with 10 minutes left, it's kind of like you need a miracle. We made that happen and we were kind of shocked we did it, but we were still so happy."

After that historic Game 7 win, Rask uttered a classic line: "It's do or die [in overtime]. You have to make a save. You're either a hero or an a------."

By no means was Rask calling Toronto goalie James Reimer the latter, but the Boston netminder did say his team's comeback was one of the craziest things he had ever seen on the ice. In the aftermath of that loss for the Maple Leafs, Reimer took it hard. It's likely Reimer will start for the Maple Leafs against the Bruins on Saturday.

Rask knows first-hand how a brutal loss like that feels. In the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, Rask and the Bruins had a 3-0 series lead on the Philadelphia Flyers, but Boston imploded and lost that series in seven games.

"It sucks," Rask said. "Then again, you can't blame yourself too much. You've got to go over the goals and if you feel like you sucked, then you just deal with it, but I don't think it was his fault that they lost. There's really nothing you can do about it after, so you just have to go over it, talk about it for a day or two then just move on. That's pretty much all you can do."

Bruins forward Jarome Iginla was with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season when he saw the highlights of how the Bruins finished off the Maple Leafs.

"It was pretty unreal," Iginla said. "Being at home, I thought it was pretty much done, as most people did. It was definitely something you don't see every day. Going back, it's already an Original Six rivalry there, but [Game 7] adds to it. Any time you end a team's season, it just adds more to the dislike between the two teams. That's the case [Saturday] and they're ahead of us in the standings and we're trying to get back and feel better about our game. We're trying to string together some wins and we'll be ready tomorrow."