Nylander and Woll help Maple Leafs beat Bruins 2-1 to force Game 7


TORONTO — William Nylander scored twice, Joseph Woll made 22 saves and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Thursday night to force a seventh game in the first-round Eastern Conference series.

“We battled and competed,” said Nylander, who sat the first three games of the series because of an undisclosed ailment. “And Woller was incredible.”

Toronto has overcame a 3-1 series deficit, also staving off elimination with a 2-1 victory in overtime in Boston on Tuesday night, to send the series back to Boston for a winner-take-all finale Saturday night. The series winner will face the Florida Panthers.

Morgan Rielly assisted on both goals.

Jeremy Swayman stopped 24 shots for the Bruins, who also blew a 3-1 lead against the Florida Panthers last year in the first round before losing in Game 7 following a record-setting regular season. Morgan Geekie spoiled Woll’s shutout bid with 0.1 seconds left.

Bruins coach Jim Montgomery wants to see more from his team in the decider and called out forward David Pastrnak by name.

“Your best players need to be your best players this time of year,” Montgomery said. “I think the effort is tremendous and they need to come through with some big-time plays in big-time moments. “I think (captain Brad) Marchand has done that in the series. Pasta needs to step up.”

Said Pastrnak: “I maybe didn’t get enough shots. I should maybe have a little bit more of a shooting mentality. Usually, that always helps me.”

Toronto was without Auston Matthews for the second straight game after the star center was pulled from Game 4 because of an illness.

Nylander opened the scoring with 54.8 seconds left in the second period. The Swedish winger took a pass from Timothy Liljegren in the offensive zone before weaving away from his check and firing a shot that glanced off Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy in front and beat Swayman on the short-side.

“Big-time stuff,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “What you’re looking for from a player of his calibre.”

The goal set off wild celebrations inside an electric Scotiabank Arena — and outside the rink as Maple Leaf Square turned into a mosh pit of blue and white.

Toronto made it 2-0 with 2:13 left in the game when Nylander moved in alone after taking a pass from Matthew Knies and slid a backhander between Swayman’s pads.

“They’re obviously very desperate, fighting for their lives,” Marchand said. “So that’s always the toughest game to get. We know that. But I thought tonight was better than last game. … If someone told us at the start of the season that we’d be Game 7 at home against Toronto, we’d take that all day.”

Woll is the first goalie in NHL history to have each of his first four career playoff starts come in elimination games. Thatcher Demko (2020), Michael Hutchinson (2020) and Manny Fernandez (2003) are the only other netminders to have their first three starts come in win-or-go home contests.

The Bruins had just one shot on target through 27 minutes.

“Gives me a lot of confidence,” Woll said. “Guys were laying out blocking shots and coming up big.”

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL



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