Jake DeBrusk watched the tiebreaking goal go into the net from ice level, sliding into the boards on his backside after he was flattened by Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner.
The Bruins rookie didn’t even have time to climb up off his knees before he was mobbed by teammates.
“Jake had a real coming-out party in the series,” coach Bruce Cassidy said after DeBrusk scored twice to help Boston beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-4 on Wednesday night and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“Uh, it went pretty well,” he said with a laugh. “Obviously, with the win it was special — something I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget this series just in general, first playoffs. I was really happy to contribute.”
Frederik Andersen had 29 saves for the Maple Leafs, who have not won a playoff series since 2004. They came close in the first round in 2013, when they rallied from a three-games-to-one deficit against Boston and took a 4-1 lead in Game 7.
“It’s always disappointing,” said Patrick Marleau, who scored twice for Toronto. “Obviously, you’re trying to win the Cup. To fall short once again, it’s heartbreaking every time.”
Travis Dermott also scored for the Maple Leafs, who again won back-to-back games after falling behind 3-1 in the series. Game 6 came in Toronto on the night that a man drove a van onto a crowded sidewalk in the city, killing 10 people and injuring more than a dozen others.
“I’ve always had a passion for teaching, a passion for coaching,” Vick said at a news conference on Wednesday morning in Atlanta. “When Brad called me about this opportunity, I felt like it was obviously something I couldn’t pass up.”
Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress will assume that role with the Atlanta team.
Childress, 61, got to know Vick last summer when Vick was a coaching intern for the Kansas City Chiefs before leaving to join Fox Sports as an analyst. Childress, who was the assistant head coach to Andy Reid, left the Chiefs when the team’s season ended in January. He then joined former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy in Chicago, helping with his transition to head coach of the Bears.
Vick was asked by reporters Wednesday what he learned from working with the Chiefs.
“To get the best our your players, the coaches have to be at their best as well,” he said, according to WSB-TV. “It was a grind, and I respected it. If I had that opportunity to stay, I probably would have. But it came around full circle, and I’m just thankful for this opportunity. Looking forward to get going.”
Vick won’t have full control of the offense from the beginning.