Big Game Kuraly continues to score big goals in the playoffs

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BOSTON – The Bruins insisted that missing an injured Sean Kuraly at the beginning of their first-round playoff series was going to be a bigger factor than most expected.

Certainly, the fourth line was a strength for the Bruins all year and Kuraly has built up a reputation as a playoff performer in his short time with the Bruins, but it was also difficult to envision him being that much of a difference-maker. Yet, it was Kuraly that scored a huge goal in the first few minutes of the third period to give Boston a little insurance and lead them to a 5-1 win over the Maple Leafs in the decisive Game 7 at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

Kuraly was solid in each of his first two games back in the series once he got healthy, but he exploded in Game 7 for a goal, two points and a plus-3 for a fourth line that kicked in two of the first three goals in a huge playoff game for Boston.

That’s just Big Game Kuraly getting it done again.

“We talked about him missing the start of the series, and you talk about a depth guy and think how much you can miss him, but we use him in a lot of different ways for us, and he’s a valuable playoff guy,” said Bruce Cassidy. “The last couple of years he’s scored some big goals for us in the playoffs.”

Kuraly made a nice play to keep the puck in the offensive zone and get it to Joakim Nordstrom for the first goal of the game, but it was the rocket from the high slot that clinched the game in the third that really wowed his teammates.

“That was an amazing shot. I saw the hold there. I know for some reason I thought he was going to do it and he got it done,” said Patrice Bergeron, who knows a little something about being clutch himself. “I thought that was a great play by him at a clutch time. He’s been doing that many times, I guess, over the last few years.”

So now the 26-year-old Kuraly has five goals and eight points in 19 career playoff games for the Bruins over the last three postseasons, and is fully healthy and back driving a fourth line that became a big factor over the second half of the playoff series. It was certainly the bottom-6 guys’ time to shine in Game 7, but it also highlighted just how much the Nazem Kadri suspension screwed a Leafs team trying to match up with the Bruins.

“I think anytime you can contribute offensively it feels great. A lot of times we contribute in different ways, but to be able to do that was a good feeling and something we hope to continue. But [it’s] really just continue playing hard and trying to build on good shifts for our team,” said Kuraly.  “It’s a little even more calming just being in the lineup because you feel like you’ve got a little impact on it. But the guys played great in some of those games and I was just really happy to be able to get back in there at some point. Everything went really well with me.”

That’s an understatement, but then again everything goes really well for Big Game Kuraly once it hits playoff time. 

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