The unshaven faces of sadness and disappointment walked through and around the Maple Leafs dressing room, their expressions of shock saying more than their words could muster.

It was that difficult. It was that challenging. It was, in so many ways, that sad for the Maple Leafs.

A night that began so nicely for the upstart Leafs ended in stunning overtime defeat, with one goal, one mistake, ending the most hopeful and entertaining Leafs season in almost a decade.

It was that close, that personal, that the Toronto players, who had a 4-1 lead --and seemingly a first-round win over the Boston Bruins with half a period to play--ended up beaten in seven games on Patrice Bergeron's overtime score, ended up beaten down.

They could taste victory. They knew it. They felt it.

They just couldn't finish the job.

"I thought we ran out of gas," said Randy Carlyle, the Leafs coach who had a sensational first full season in Toronto. "Losing is tough. And losing the way we did... There's nothing you can say to explain how and why it happened. It happened for us and for us as a coaching staff we'll take some time in the next couple of days, we'll evaluate and let the emotions subside ...

"We couldn't seem to execute in the end. We had some chances. (Matt) Frattin missed on a breakaway. We just didn't get it done."

In one breath, Carlyle felt about his team the way so many Leafs fans felt about this team. He was proud of them. He saw the progress that was made. He saw how close they were--how they had it, really. And then he watched it taken from them, not stolen, more like mugged by the physical Bruins in the final two minutes of regulation time, with the Bruins' goalie on the bench.

"We proved we can compete," said Carlyle. "That was a sharp learning curve (for us). We still didn't find a way to close it out."

The most disappointing aspect of the series to the coach was the two losses in their own building. He wanted one of those games back, more than the 4-1 lead. He wanted one more opportunity.

Joffrey Lupul had an excellent chance in the second minute of overtime. Tuukka Rask made the stop. Four minutes later, the Bruins were celebrating. Most of the Leafs could barely muster a look up.

"We kind of gave it away," said Nazem Kadri, who was right in calling this series winnable. It was. This defeat will sting for now and for a long time, be filed on the already long list of Maple Leafs disappointments. It was there and then it wasn't.

Kadri scored his first playoff goal in the sixth minute of the third period to give the Leafs a three-goal lead. He thought that was it.

"It was hard not to think that," he said. "Up three goals. This is a tough pill to swallow."

Captain Dion Phaneuf called it the toughest loss he's experienced as a pro hockey player.

"It's extremely disappointing," he said. "We had a team down and out and let them take our game away. We let them climb out of their hole."

When asked to put the loss into some kind of perspective, Phaneuf said: "It's extremely tough to put this into words."