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Game 7 takeaways: Maple Leafs eliminated in crushing fashion

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Photo credit:Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
1 month ago
Of course this is how it ends. David Pastrnak scored shortly into the first overtime period as the Boston Bruins eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7 of their first-round series.
There’s no need to belabour the points. Let’s get right into it. Here are three takeaways from Game 7.
Ilya Samsonov was admirable after being thrust into action unexpectedly
Ilya Samsonov was a surprise starter for Game 7 after Joseph Woll shut the door in consecutive victories. Woll was ruled out of the game as developments trickled in through the afternoon that he woke up with some pain. Toronto, per its policy under Brad Treliving, did not disclose the nature of Woll’s injury publicly. In any event, Samsonov did more than his job, keeping the Maple Leafs in the game throughout a tightly wound affair.
It wasn’t a gentle immersion. Samsonov immediately made a stop on Justin Brazeau during the opening two minutes after the puck dangerous ricocheted off Boston’s resident giant. Samsonov made several good stops on Jake DeBrusk in transition, who made a habit of testing the Maple Leafs off the rush throughout the series. He made a huge save on Pavel Zacha to start the second period and Samsonov saved a half-goal above expected at 5-on-5 throughout the game. Samsonov wasn’t the problem, far from it, he was one of the best players on the ice for the Maple Leafs.
Samsonov entered the series as the Game 1 starter, then most of the fan base freaked out as he was thrust into action for Game 7. This may have been his final game with the Maple Leafs and if it was, he did all he could to keep his team in a contest that will define the next era of an 107-year-old franchise.
William Nylander almost authored an era-defining narrative shift 
William Nylander was 10 minutes away from authoring an era-defining shift for the Maple Leafs. Nylander was the Maple Leafs’ best forward once again, coming off a Game 6 performance where he scored both goals and kept the season alive. Auston Matthews connected with Nylander on a one-timer midway through the third period and for a second, Nylander and Matthews almost changed the narrative about a high-octane offense that turns into a lemon in the spring.
Nylander recorded a team-best five shots, he brought out the best in Matthew Knies, he was the lone Maple Leafs player who could make successful zone entries on the power play and he constantly threatened Jeremy Swayman, while finishing with a 53 percent share of the expected goals. It’s finicky how the context of a goal changes. If Nylander’s goal stood as the winner, he’d be lauded as a civic hero who changed the fortunes of a team that perpetually chokes in the playoffs. Nylander missed the first three games of the series with a migraine and worked tirelessly to get back in the series. He was the team’s best forward in the final four games and him and Matthews are the only players who can be considered untouchable now.
David Pastrnak finally comes alive at the worst possible time for the Maple Leafs 
Ahead of the series, I argued that David Pastrnak was the player who gave the Maple Leafs the most trouble out of any opponent. Pastrnak was relatively held in check throughout the series by Matthew Knies, John Tavares, Jake McCabe and Simon Benoit. Boston’s superstar winger was called out by Jim Montgomery and he responded during the final game of the series, scoring the series-clinching goal in overtime.
Pastrnak constantly got around William Nylander and the Bruins, he created seven individual scoring chances, he had a ton of threatening looks and when the game mattered most, he slipped behind Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly for the series-winning goal. At the end of the day, Pastrnak’s relative look academic now. Pastrnak finished the series with three goals, five points, while occupying the attention of Toronto’s second line throughout the seven games. He will live in on in Toronto’s nightmares from here to eternity.

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