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First Round

Maple Leafs must overcome Game 7 hurdle against Bruins

Toronto hoping to finally get past Boston in elimination game

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

TORONTO -- If the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to advance to the Eastern Conference Second Round for the first time since 2004, they must get past a hurdle that has stood in their way before.

The Maple Leafs play Game 7 against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NESN), the third straight time a best-of-7 first-round series between them has gone the distance. The Bruins eliminated the Maple Leafs in 2013 and last season.

The winner of Game 7 will face the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"We've got that confidence in this locker room," Toronto forward Mitchell Marner said. "We're a year older and a year under us of that disappointing feeling of last year, and we don't want that again."

Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin, acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 28, is 4-0 in Game 7s. He said the key will be how Toronto manages momentum swings.

"We have to understand it's not going to be easy," Muzzin said. "They're going to have shifts where they dominate us and maybe score, maybe have the lead.

Video: Marchand, Bruins defeat Maple Leafs to force Game 7

"It's how we react to that. We've done a good job of that but (in Game 6) I don't think we handled it as well as we should have. We're going to have to maintain our composure on the bench and in the room and go in with the same attitude as before and I think we'll be OK."

Coach Mike Babcock is confident in the Maple Leafs' ability to respond after a loss. Neither team has yet to win two games in a row in the series.

"Bottom line is we have to be better tomorrow," Babcock said. "It's an opportunity for our club and we look forward to it.

"Before this series when you looked at the teams, I don't think anybody is really surprised. "These are good teams in the National Hockey League, I don't think there's a lot to give. You relish being in the situation so enjoy being in it, but you have to play with good detail and the way we're supposed to play, look after the puck and then you have a chance to be successful."

Though the Maple Leafs won two games in Boston (Game 1 and Game 5), they know it doesn't mean much in the end.

"No because you don't know what's going to happen," defenseman Ron Hainsey said. "Last night in Game 6, we started out great, got the first goal but then ran into penalty trouble, they pumped two in and the next thing we know, we're chasing the game. It's unpredictable, that's what makes it fun because you don't know what's going to happen."

Marner said the Maple Leafs have done more than enough through six games to be confident that this season, a better outcome in Game 7 against the Bruins is achievable.

"We should be comfortable, we have a lot of confidence in each other in this locker room," Marner said. "We've got four steady lines with three great defense pairings and [goalie Frederik Andersen] has been unbelievable for us, so I think everyone in this locker room has confidence."


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