Ranking the Top 10 playoff comebacks in Bruins history
The Bruins may be more known for stunning heartbreaks than stirring comebacks over the long course of their nearly 100-year history. But the Original Six franchise has had their share of comebacks, championships and fist-pump moments when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
A lot of those have happened against their divisional rivals, whether it was the 1980s Adams Division playoffs or the way they’ve played soul-crusher to the Maple Leafs over the last 10 years.
There’s even a few times that the Black and Gold have gained up the upper hand over the Canadiens, even if it was only for a brief, shining moment in a playoff series. Here are the Top 10 best Bruins comebacks in their glorious Stanley Cup Playoff history:
10. Game 1 vs. Quebec Nordiques, 1983
Adams Division Semifinals
In 1983, the Bruins clearly needed a bit of a wake-up call for the playoffs and Peter Stastny was happy to provide it by dropping a hat trick on the B’s in the first period. The cold water splashed on the B’s faces was exactly what they needed for the rest of the game, though, as the Bruins scored four unanswered goals to take Game 1 of the first round series against the Nordiques in another classic Adams Division showdown.
Barry Pederson and Mike O’Connell scored a pair of goals to lead the Bruins to the victory and classic 1980’s Bruins goaltender Pete Peeters shut the door over the final 40 minutes of the stunning comeback. The Bruins went on to win the best-of-five series in four games and Peeters allowed just eight goals in the entire series.
9. Game 4 vs. Montreal Canadiens, 1985
Adams Division Semifinals
It looked like it was going to be another disappointing playoff series for the Bruins against the Habs as they fell behind 4-1 after the first period while trailing 2-1 in the best-of-five series. But the Bruins found some magic at the old Boston Garden and rallied for five goals in the second period to make it a wild 6-6 game going into the third period.
That’s where Ken Linsemen capped off his hat trick with a third-period game-winner with less than seven minutes to go in the third period. Linsemen finished the thrilling comeback with three goals and five points, but the Bruins ultimately lost the series when the immortal Steve Penney shut Boston down in Game 5 at the Montreal Forum. Sacre Bleu!
8. Game 7 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 2018
Eastern Conference First Round
The Bruins battled with the Maple Leafs through seven games, and it looked like they were in trouble 40 minutes into the game. They were trailing 4-3 after Toronto scored a pair of goals in the second period and Tuukka Rask clearly didn’t look like he had his “A” game at all. So what did the Bruins do? They held the Maple Leafs without a single shot on net for the first 10 minutes of the third period and poured on four unanswered goals against Freddie Andersen to blow right on past Toronto.
It was an impressive show of dominance by the Bruins against a flashy, skilled Leafs group in a Game 7 situation with even strength goals from Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand clinching the series victory. This game is one of three straight Game 7s that the Bruins have won over the Leafs on home ice over a seven-year span.
7. Game 2 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 2011
Eastern Conference Final
The Bruins had dropped the first game of the conference final at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and looked like they were in trouble trailing 2-1 headed into the first intermission. A Marty St. Louis goal with just seven seconds to go in the period was a gut punch to the fan base, but served as a wake-up call to the eventual Stanley Cup champs.
18-year-old rookie Tyler Seguin exploded for two goals and four points in the second period and Michael Ryder scored a pair as well as the Bruins put five goals on the board in the middle period. Tampa Bay scored two in the third period to make it a one-goal game, but the Bruins held on for an important 6-5 win that served as an early turning point in a classic seven-game series.
6. Game 7 vs. Buffalo Sabres, 1983
Adams Division Final
There was nothing like those old Adams Division playoff battles with the Bruins and any one of a number of divisional opponents. This time around, it was the Buffalo Sabres who took the Bruins to a decisive Game 7 at the historic Boston Garden. Ric Seiling scored a pair of goals to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead in the second period and things were not looking good.
But just when it appeared that the B’s were in trouble, Barry Pederson broke through and scored on Bob Sauve to get Boston on the board. Then Brad Park tied things up with a power play goal later in the second period and that’s the way it stayed until Park scored on a long blast in overtime to win Game 7 and push the Bruins into a Eastern Conference final berth against the eventual Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders.
5. Game 6 vs. Montreal Canadiens, 2008
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
The playoff game that kicked off the modern Bruins hockey renaissance, even though it was ultimately in a losing series. The Bruins were facing elimination, down 3-2 in the series and trailing 2-1 after the first 40 minutes at TD Garden after Habs goals from Chris Higgins and Steve Begin. What happened in the third period was a wild fight from a young Bruins group with Vladimir Sobotka tying up the game in the opening minutes and then Montreal and Boston going back and forth with scores from Milan Lucic and Dennis Wideman.
In the final three minutes, Marco Sturm scored a dramatic game-winning goal for the B’s, who had previously led for just 11 seconds in the game. The B’s fell 5-0 in Game 7 in Montreal, but the “this building is vibrating” excitement from NESN’s Jack Edwards kick-started the eventual run to the Stanley Cup in 2011 with the same core group.
4. Game 4 vs. St. Louis Blues, 1970
Stanley Cup Final
Clearly this game is remembered for the flying Bobby Orr goal in overtime that’s become an iconic symbol of Boston Bruins hockey. But the overtime goal was required because the Bruins got off to a rough start after building a 3-0 lead in the playoff series.
The Cup was never really in doubt given the way Boston had dominated against the overmatched Blues, but St. Louis managed to build up a 2-1 lead in the second period after scores from Red Berenson and Gary Sabourin. St. Louis also had a 3-2 lead in the third until Johnny Bucyk tied things up 3-3 with less than seven minutes to go in the game.
All of that led up to Derek Sanderson feeding Orr in overtime for the flying goal against Glenn Hall that everybody associates with Bruins playoff greatness.
3. Game 4 vs. Hartford Whalers, 1990
Adams Division Semifinals
The favored Bruins were down 2-1 to the Hartford Whalers in the playoff series and the Whale had touched up Reggie Lemelin for five goals in the first two periods of Game 4 to take an imposing lead over the Black and Gold. Head coach Mike Milbury pulled Lemelin in favor of Andy Moog for the third period, and in the first seven minutes of the third David Poulin and Bob Beers scored goals to get the B’s back into the contest.
Former Miracle on Ice Olympian Dave Christian scored on Hartford goalie Peter Sidorkiewicz to tie the game up at 5-5, and Poulin scored his second goal of the period in the final minutes to stick a harpoon in the Whale. The Bruins went on to beat Hartford in seven games after their dramatic Game 4 victory.
2. Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. Canadiens, 2011
Things looked bleak for the Bruins after the first couple of home losses to the Canadiens in the first round series. Zdeno Chara had missed one of the games due to illness and the B’s had managed to score just one goal against Carey Price over the first two games of the seven-game series played on the TD Garden ice. The whispers were already swirling that Claude Julien and his staff were going to be fired if the Bruins went one and done just a year after blowing a 3-0 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Instead, the Bruins stole a game in Montreal to halve the Habs' lead in the series, regrouped for a couple of days in Lake Placid and eventually bested the hated Habs in an overtime Game 7 win that vaulted them all the way to the Stanley Cup that season. It looked bad two games into that year’s playoff run, but the Bruins showed their character and resolve in coming back to eventually vanquish the Canadiens.
1. Game 7 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 2013
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
The granddaddy of all playoff comebacks.
The Bruins were down 4-1 midway through the third period of Game 7 on their own home ice, and some unfortunate fans had already left TD Garden, wondering if this was the end for a core group of players that had won the Cup in 2011. Instead, the Bruins scored four unanswered goals to stun the Maple Leafs, eliminating them from the playoffs.
Nathan Horton scored midway through the third period to start the comeback and both Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron scored with Tuukka Rask pulled to tie things up and push the unbelievable contest into overtime. Bergeron then scored again in overtime to the classic Dave Goucher call of “Bergeron! Bergeron!” and cemented his status as one of the most clutch players in Bruins history. It’s a playoff loss that Toronto still hasn’t fully recovered from as a franchise seven years later.