TORONTO -- A young Toronto team whose previous exposure to the NHL playoffs was largely watching them on TV is looking to make a little post-season history of its own.
Captain Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel scored third-period goals Sunday night as the surging Maple Leafs edged the Bruins 2-1 to send their playoff series back to Boston for Game 7 tonight.
The Leafs, making their return to the post-season for the first time since 2004, became the 48th team in Stanley Cup history to rally from a 3-1 deficit to force Game 7. The only time Toronto has come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series was the 1942 Stanley Cup final against the Detroit Red Wings when the Leafs trailed 3-0 before reeling off four straight wins.
Sunday's win also snapped a 54-year stretch of home playoff failure against the Bruins. Toronto's last home playoff win against Boston was March 31, 1959, when the Leafs won 3-2 in overtime. Nine straight post-season home losses followed in the decades since with Boston outscoring Toronto 38-24.
On Sunday, the Bruins started well but couldn't beat James Reimer and the Leafs took over the game as it wore on.
'I felt that I owed it to the guys and luckily I was able to tip that (shot). It definitely felt good'
Boston coach Claude Julien was critical of his team's puck management and decision-making.
"We've been a Jekyll and Hyde hockey team all year and that's what you're seeing right now," he said. "I think it's important to us to bring the good Bruins team to the table for Game 7."
That goes tonight at the TD Garden. A loss and Boston, Cup winners in 2011, will exit in the seventh game of the first round for the second year in a row.
"We know we're going to go into a hostile building (Monday) night in Boston," said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle. "We know the passion in their market and their fans. We've been there already, we know what we're heading to and we just have to make sure that we play the game to a higher level than we did tonight. Because we know they will."
As if the Bruins did not have enough problems in Toronto, their plane broke down.
"Late during tonight's game we were made aware that there was a malfunction with our airplane," Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said in a statement. "As a result we are staying in Toronto on Sunday night and the team will travel to Boston on Monday morning."
The Leafs will have momentum in their corner when the teams meets to sort out the series once and for all. The Bruins' companion will be self-doubt after a second failed attempt at closing out the series and a recent playoff history of making life difficult for themselves.
"They're a good team," said Boston forward Patrice Bergeron, frustrated several times by Reimer. "We never said it was going to be an easy series. Here we are now and it's all about one game. Whatever happened in the first six games doesn't matter. It's all about showing up (Monday)."
Reimer was again steady in the Toronto net, making 29 saves to earn the win. Tuukka Rask finished with 24 stops in the Boston goal.
Milan Lucic scored for Boston with 26 seconds left in the third with Rask out for the extra attacker.
"If you only score one goal, a lot of times you end up on the wrong side, said Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg said. "Tonight, we just didn't score enough to win."
"Being frustrated right now isn't going to help," added Bergeron. "It's about being determined to find ways to put it in. It's all about (Monday) now."
For Phaneuf, scoring was sweet redemption after being involved in the play that led to the Bruins' overtime winner in Game 4.
His goal came at 1:48 of the third period after Nazem Kadri ripped a wrist shot that was tipped in by Phaneuf, who had made his way to the front of the goal after continuing his rush. Boston had lost the puck in the Toronto end on an attempt at a flash pass by David Krejci.
"I felt that I owed it to the guys and luckily I was able to tip that (shot). It definitely felt good," said Phaneuf.
"When you play as many minutes and you're the focus of your hockey club, when a lot of things don't go the way they're supposed to go, being the captain, that C becomes pretty heavy," Carlyle said of Phaneuf, whose decision to pinch in and hit Nathan Horton resulted in an odd-man rush that led to the OT goal in Game 4.
"And when you make a mistake, which he did, your teammates want to rally around you and you want to try and correct that as quickly as possible."
-- The Canadian Press