Rick Zamperin: Maple Leafs provide some respite to a city in mourning

Players and fans stand for a moment of silence, after 10 people died and 15 others were injured when a van mounted a sidewalk and struck multiple pedestrians along a stretch of one of Toronto's busiest streets, before first period NHL round one playoff hockey action against the Boston Bruins in Toronto on Monday, April 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

That. Was. Intense.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have forced a Game 7 in their first round NHL playoff series against the Boston Bruins after skating to a nail-biting 3-1 victory Monday night at Air Canada Centre.

The evening began with a moment of silence for the victims of Monday afternoon’s senseless tragedy along Yonge Street, and for about three hours or so, Torontonians were given a respite from the horror of what happened just hours beforehand.

Click to play video: 'Maple Leafs hold moment of silence to honour victims of the tragic van attack'
Maple Leafs hold moment of silence to honour victims of the tragic van attack

From the opening faceoff to the final horn, the Leafs played their best game of the series even after allowing the first goal of the game early in the second period.

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But William Nylander’s first goal of the series just 35 seconds after Jake DeBrusk’s ice-breaker got Toronto right back in it and Mitch Marner – who’s been the best Leaf over the six games – netted the winning goal about six minutes before the second intermission.

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Both goalies, Toronto’s Frederik Anderson and Boston’s Tuuka Rask, made marvelous saves in the third period – including some crucial stops while short-handed.

The Leafs and Bruins series is the only first round matchup that is going to a seventh and deciding game, and appropriately so.

They’ve provided us with a ton of excitement, and come Wednesday night in Boston, we should expect nothing less.

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