Bruins Beat Carolina 2-1, Take 3-0 Series Lead
RALEIGH, N.C. — Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins stood tall during an early deluge of shots and penalties, patiently waiting for their chance to take over the game.
Then one big burst put them on the brink of another trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Bruins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Tuesday night, taking a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference final after Chris Wagner and Brad Marchand scored 5:07 apart in the second period.
“The moral of the story is, we got through the first period — however you want to describe it — and off we went after that,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Rask stopped 35 shots for the Bruins, who have won six straight postseason games for the first time since 1978. They are one victory away from their third Stanley Cup appearance in nine years.
Boston will go for the sweep on Thursday night.
“This year, I feel like we really have each other’s backs,” Rask said. “We’ve been in some tight games, and then our depth comes in, and we score some goals and we take over the games.”
Calvin de Haan scored and Curtis McElhinney made 29 saves for the Hurricanes while starting in place of Petr Mrazek, who allowed 10 goals in the first two games of the series.
This one was closer, but it still wasn’t enough to keep alive Carolina’s postseason perfection at home — where a pig named Hamilton looks on from behind the corner boards.
“There’s no way around it. There’s no way to sugarcoat it,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. We got kicked in the you-know-where.”
And now they’re in an unenviable spot. Only four teams in NHL history have ever rallied to win a series they trailed 3-0, and none since Los Angeles in 2014 — though Carolina captain Justin Williams was on that Kings team that rallied to beat San Jose in the first round.
“I’m probably going to give you … the clichés that are going to be thrown to you and everything,” Williams said.
This one got away from them in the first 7½ minutes of the second, when the Bruins claimed control with their fourth line turning a turnover by Carolina’s Brock McGinn into a 1-0 lead at 1:21.
Sean Kuraly collected the puck and passed low to Joakim Nordstrom, with the former Hurricane then finding Wagner alone in front for a tap-in.
“That line scored a goal by playing the right way, pursuing pucks,” Cassidy said. “They’re fourth-liners. You don’t expect them to make a tic-tac-toe play, but they did, and good for them.”
The Bruins entered with the NHL’s best postseason power-play unit — converting on a full third of their chances in the playoffs — and they were 1 of 5 in this one with the man advantage against a Carolina penalty kill that began with a sub-50% success rate in this series.
But that one goal was a significant one.
With 19 seconds left on a high-sticking minor on Nino Niederreiter, Marchand put Boston up 2-0 when his shot from between the circles trickled past McElhinney.
It loomed large because the Hurricanes pulled within a goal when de Haan’s slap shot off a draw got through Rask’s pads for the defenseman’s first goal since Nov. 8.
The Bruins thought Torey Krug had an insurance goal with 15:45 left, but the officials ruled Jake DeBrusk interfered with McElhinney — a decision that was confirmed after Boston’s challenge led to a review in Toronto.
That seemed like a significant development.
Rask made sure it ultimately wasn’t.