Facing elimination for the first time in the series, the Bruins needed their best game of the series.
Well, they got it.
“To me, it’s the best game we’ve played,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Today, was more the way we wanted it. We wanted to be aggressive, keeping pucks alive with our D, that’s how we end up with 10 shots as defensemen, or attempts, whatever it turned out to be. I thought we were attacking the net better. Just more, overall of our identity.”
After Morgan Rielly opened the scoring 9:42 into the first period, the Bruins didn’t let the early deficit faze them, instead finding their game and carrying the majority of the play for the remainder of the contest.
“Yeah, after that first one we got together, we just knew there was a lot of game left. We’ve got a lot of character in the group and we’ve shown that all year,” said Brad Marchand. “Come from behind a lot this year and we weren’t fazed. We came together, we played very hard after that and we played a really good game.”
It was Marchand’s power play goal shortly after Rielly’s strike that sparked the Bruins, and turned the game in their favor for good, as the Bruins followed up with goals by Torey Krug on the power play and Jake DeBrusk, his first of the series.
After a dominating second period, the Bruins survived a third period push by the Maple Leafs.
Once Auston Matthews’ fifth goal in four games cut the Bruins lead to one, things got dicey in the Bruins end as Toronto turned up the heat. But Tuukka Rask and the Bruins managed to push through, sealing the deal with Marchand’s empty net goal.
“This game was a great road win from top to bottom,” said Krug. “Guys were respectful of the game, respectful of the opposition, but playing assertive and hard and us having that high forward allowed our D to push the pace and play aggressive and that’s what we ended up with.”
As Krug mentioned, the Bruins D were very active, especially Krug himself who finished with a team-high nine shots on goal, and a team-high 12 shot attempts. The Bruins d-core as a whole finished with 18 shots.
Special teams was huge for the Bruins in Game 6, a game that once again featured a handful of questionable calls for and against both teams. I think the officiating as a whole in the series has been awful.
The Bruins converted on both of their power play opportunities, while the Maple Leafs went scoreless on their three tries.
“A recipe for our power play all year is to make the play that is open, and you know, get a shot, recover the puck and make one or two passes and get another shot. That’s how we scored tonight,“ added Krug. “Obviously if they’re going to take away Patrice Bergeron, you know, we have four other guys that can do some things on the ice. We just have to make the right reads and make the right plays. And we were able to do that tonight.”
After Sunday’s two-goal performance, the Bruins have scored seven power play goals in 16 chances.
One thing Toronto has done a great job of in the series has been the ability to take away the middle of the ice in their own zone. So to not only see DeBrusk finally put a puck in the net, but to do so by getting to the net, was nice to see.
“I dropped with Krech [Krejci] and I understood that [the puck] was going to come back to me at some point,” said DeBrusk. “I just tried to extend my stick and get there, and I was lucky enough to cash in on that.”
After an ugly performance from the bottom-six in Game 5, the Bruins third and fourth lines were much better in Game 6. Even though the line of Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle and Karson Kuhlman were on ice for both Toronto goals, the bottom-six was generating chances and dictating puck possession.
In 6:55 of five-on-five ice time, the Coyle line held the advantage in shot attempts 12-3 and scoring chances 3-1.
Now, with Game 6 in the books, it’s time to turn to Game 7, the second Game 7 between the two teams in as many years.
The beauty of Game 7 is nothing else matters. Not last year, not 2013, not even games one through six.
“Nothing matters about the past, so we are not going to look at anything that has happened in the past and expect it to play out tomorrow, or next game” said Marchand. “They’re going to play hard and one team is going to win, one team is going to lose.”
“It’s one of those things where you try to forget the past,” said DeBrusk. “Whether it’s this series or last year’s series and understand that they’re going to come out with everything they got and so are we.”
Surprised that these two teams are heading to Game 7? You shouldn’t be.
“I’m not surprised at all to be honest, that was actually my guess at the start,” added DeBrusk who will be playing in his second career Game 7.
Mine too, Jake. Mine too.
Game 7 is what the Bruins and Maple Leafs do.