2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 7 - Boston 4, Montreal 3 (OT) – Bruins win series, 4-3
For the ninth consecutive night there was overtime playoff hockey in a spellbinding first round that has revealed in full relief the majesty and drama of Stanley Cup competition. Thanks to Nathan Horton, the Boston Bruins – who haven’t hoisted the Stanley Cup since Bobby Orr did his thing in 1972 – were actually able to emerge on the sunshine side of the hockey divide.
Normally consigned to defeat by a hated enemy, the Bs actually managed to punch back against their longtime conquerors from the province of Quebec. Horton, by far the hero of this series in Beantown, scored 5:43 into overtime to give the Bruins a heartstopping victory over the archrival Montreal Canadiens, the Yankees of hockey and the team that had won 24 of 32 previous playoff series against Boston. The Bruins will now play the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second consecutive year.
Goaltender Tim Thomas stopped 34 shots for the Bruins, who recovered after losing the first two games of the series at home. The comeback against a longtime nemesis is the perfect way for the Bruins to enter a series against a Philadelphia team that erased a 3-0 series deficit against Boston 12 months ago.
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Johnny Boychuk and Mark Recchi scored in the first 5:33 of Game 7 to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead. Boychuk scored at 3:31 while Recchi scored at 5:33. Yannick Weber of Montreal made this game a one-goal contest with a power-play goal to end the first period. Tomas Plekanec tied it in the second period with an unassisted, short-handed goal. By that time, the TD Garden crowd in Boston was very much on edge. The hated Habs have made life so miserable for Boston over the years, and in light of the Bruins’ steady parade of postseason choke jobs throughout the decades, it only seemed natural that Montreal would steal the Bruins’ internal organs and leave them on the ice once again.
After Chris Kelly scored with 9:44 left in the third period to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead, P.K. Subban tied the game in the final two minutes on the man advantage for Montreal. That goal reaffirmed a long-held sense of dread that Bruins fans have rightly clung to. History suggested that the Habs would be Lucy to Boston’s Charlie Brown once more.
Someone in a black Bruin uniform begged to differ. It was time for Nathan Horton to score another game winner in overtime.
Horton scored with a slap shot off a pass from Milan Lucic, setting off a celebration on the Bruins bench and all over Beantown. The win gave Boston its third overtime victory in the series, including Game 5 on Saturday night when Horton, the hero, scored 9:03 into the second extra period.
The stage is now set for the rematch between the Bruins and the Flyers. If it’s 80 percent as good as this series was, hockey fans are in for a treat.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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