BOSTON – David Pastrnak was well aware that he needed to be better.

So, when coach Jim Montgomery said following the Bruins’ Game 6 loss in Toronto that the winger needed to “step up” his game, the winger was neither offended nor discouraged.

In fact, it was quite the opposite.

“I told him, “If I'm the coach, and you are me, I would say the same thing.’ So, I had no problem with him saying that,” said Pastrnak. “He’s trying to bring the best out of every single player and he expects more. I just took it and tried to be better. I admitted I need to be better, so I still have ways to be better.”

Pastrnak was better, alright, as he answered his coach’s call on Saturday night when he buried the Game 7 overtime winner to clinch Boston’s first-round series over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“A huge moment, obviously, a lot of excitement…to tell you, a little relief as well,” said Pastrnak, who became one of just 12 players in Bruins history to have multiple career series-clinching goals (Game 4, 2019 Eastern Conference Final). “It was a tight game, so it was nice to get it, and, obviously, the happiness from the group and sticking together.

“The whole series was unbelievable, and we couldn’t be more proud of ourselves, how we stuck together the whole series.”

Montgomery knew that his superstar right winger was poised for a strong performance following their first encounter on Saturday morning.

“I thought he was dynamic tonight,” said Montgomery. “I thought he had his most possession time, was creating shots, was taking what was available, not forcing things which happens at times to really gifted offensive players.

“But when I walked in this morning, he had a smile on his face ear to ear, and he goes, ‘what's up coach, you sleep well?’ And as soon as I know he's in that frame of mind, I knew he was going to be good tonight.”

Pastrnak said while there is still room for growth, both individually and as a team, he thought the Black & Gold’s mindset ahead of Game 7 was a vast improvement.

“Me and March had a talk, we did feel great going in, we are at home,” said Pastrnak. “The whole morning, great pregame skate and, overall, the group sticking together was a big part of it. There’s always ways to improve, right? And that's what we did, I think…even though we didn't practice [on Friday], I think we improved getting ready for this game.”

Marchand and Pastrnak talk after Game 7 win

Lindholm Delivers

On the winner, Pastrnak circled through the neutral zone, building speed along the benches after dropping a feed to Hampus Lindholm. The blue liner then gained the red line and fired a feed off the end wall that popped out perfectly to Pastrnak, who swiftly dangled around Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov and buried a backhander to clinch the series.

“I played with [Pastrnak] for long enough to know that I can see when he swings like that, and I know they're doing like three across there so it's trying to get behind them and get a good balance there,” Lindholm explained. “And obviously Pasta got his magic.

“It was [on] purpose that I was hoping that the kick out was good for him there – and then the way he handles that puck and puts it over the pads, there’s a few guys that can do that.”

Lindholm said he “can’t even describe” what he was feeling when he saw the puck get past Samsonov.

“It’s such a high,” he said. “Like, as an athlete you work so hard, year after year, season after season, to get to those moments and having guys that can put the puck in the net, and as a team everyone worked so hard for, so all the guys in this locker from trainers to staff and everyone…to get that win for our fans – I think we have the best fans in the world.”

In addition to his assist on the winner, Lindholm notched a massive tally of his own in the third period when he wristed one through traffic and by Samsonov, just 1:21 after Toronto had taken a 1-0 lead on William Nylander’s opening marker.

“Yeah, just trying to get pucks to net,” said Lindholm. “I think I've been…holding on to pucks to try to make it a little too hard on myself. So, you just try to find a little opening and get it there and then good things usually happen.”

Lindholm talks after 2-1 OT win in Game 7

Swayman Stands Tall – Again

Jeremy Swayman, once again, put forth a stellar performance between the pipes, stopping 30 of 31 shots in Game 7. For the series, the netminder posted a .950 save percentage, joining Tim Thomas as the second Bruins goalie to hit as high of a mark in a postseason series (minimum of six games), per NHL Stats.

Since 2003-04, Swayman’s nine goals allowed across the seven games is tied for the fourth-fewest surrendered in a playoff series.

“He was our best player in the series. It's not close, right?” said Montgomery. “And I think that his confidence and his swagger, I think it permeated through the group.”

Lindholm concurred, saying that Swayman’s steady hand helped guide Boston to victory, while highlighting the backstop’s save on a Joel Edmundson deflection shortly before his own tally that could have put the Bruins in a two-goal hole.

“Oh, he's been unbelievable,” said Lindholm. “He's been so steady back there for us, even tonight, like they score one and then have a good chance there to get up two when he makes a hell of a save. [If] we don’t have him back there I don’t think we win this game, so, kudos to him for that.”

“There was no doubt in him,” added Pastrnak. “He believes he gives the group a lot of belief. Proud of him the way he bounced back every game. Every single game in the series, he gave us a chance to win.

“It was the same way with Linus [Ullmark] when he played. Both of our goalies gave us a chance to win every single game and that’s really exciting. That gives the group a lot of confidence.”

For Swayman, the win marked his first career playoff series triumph.

“Just so, so grateful and so proud of these guys in this locker room, and what a feeling to do it in front of these fans,” said Swayman. “I just wanted to battle and do my job and enjoy the fruits of Game 7 overtime. And, let me say it out loud, it's like a pinch yourself thing.

“I'm just so grateful to get this opportunity and do it with this group and this team. It's a dream come true. I'm really excited.”

Highlights from BOS vs. TOR | Game 7 Highlights

A Speech to Remember

Following Game 7, several Bruins referenced a speech from Kevin Shattenkirk on Friday night that helped set the tone for their preparation – and eventual victory.

“We were together [Friday] night, it’s not a secret,” said Marchand. “We watched video, we met as a group and Shatty gave the group an incredible speech that really allowed us to kind of settle down and understand where we’re at and how we had to play and what we needed to believe to get the job done.

“We woke up this morning, you could just see within the group that we knew that everybody was going to bring their best game and everyone was going to do their job, so there was a confidence throughout the group this morning and you felt it. You could see it on guys faces, and it didn't seem like anyone was nervous.

“It felt like guys were excited for the opportunity. So yeah, you're right. Monty was right with the way he said guys were excited and were confident, and it showed.”

Pat Maroon said Shattenkirk’s speech was a testament to the former Stanley Cup champion’s leadership.

“I think Shatty did an amazing job,” said Maroon. “There’s a reason why he’s won before, his leadership, his voice carries. I think the biggest thing he touched on was you don’t have regrets when you go and lay down your head after the game…believing in yourself and the guy beside you and just the group…he did an amazing job and it touched a lot of people. His leadership goes a long way. That’s why he’s been in this league for so long.”

The Bruins also altered their traditional home game preparation as they stayed in a hotel on Friday night in an effort to hunker down and focus on the task at hand as best they could.

“The thinking was we're like 2-5  in the playoffs in the last two years at home,” said Montgomery. “And so, what's going to allow us to eliminate the noise? Learning from other coaches - when I went to the Patriots spring camp and I see, eliminate the outside noise is the one thing that [Bill] Belichick preached all the time. It's something that stuck with me. And it's something I've been preaching s the playoffs were near.

“You got to eliminate the outside noise. ‘You guys are going outside noise on social media, that’s the outside noise and it's not an easy thing to do. And also, it's your family, right…your family, you get text messages constantly. You’ve got to be able to narrow your focus.’

“And I thought that going to a hotel room and us coming to this rink today where we're going to play was something that would change the mental outlook. I don't know if it helped or not, but I think that the group was ready. We might stay in hotel rooms more.”

Montgomery, meanwhile, woke up from his pregame nap and took his mind off things by spending some quality time with his son in his backyard.

“We had a good meeting, but when I woke up from my nap [Saturday] afternoon I had nerves, because I didn't know, and then I went hit golf balls in my backyard  – we have a net – with my 12-year-old and I just started teaching him and it just made me think like this is what I love to do,” said Montgomery. “I've never gone through the experience that we've gone through here in the playoffs. Everywhere I've been I've had success and it's come quite easily.

“So, it’s rewarding to be able to go through this and grow as a coach and to be able to understand. I was getting frustrated, ‘why aren’t we grabbing this? Why aren’t we grabbing this?’ And you can't get frustrated with that.

“You have to continue to find ways to communicate and watch them grow. And that's why I'm so proud of them because they grew like you saw right from the beginning of the game that we were a different team.”

Maroon talks with the media on a travel day

Wait, There’s More

Montgomery was impressed with the performance of rookie blue liner Mason Lohrei, who landed two shots on goal in 19:20 of ice time. “I thought – if you look at – I think he played five games – the five games, three were stellar,” said Montgomery. “One was a dip, and I love the way he came back from the dip…Game 6 and 7 were really moments for him that I hope it's his coming out party, like ‘I'm an NHL player I'm going to help the Bruins from now on,’ and knowing you belong, knowing how much you mean to growth of our team and how dynamic he makes us should be really comforting.”

Montgomery talks after Bruins take Game 7