Hurricanes fall to Bruins in game 1
The Carolina Hurricanes wanted to stay out of the penalty box Thursday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Boston Bruins, everyone agreed, were too dangerous on the power play. Better to keep it a 5-on-5 game.
In the first two periods, the Bruins had two power plays but the Canes killed off both penalties. But early in the third, it all turned around as the Bruins took 5-2 victory at TD Garden.
The Bruins first followed up a Jordan Staal boarding penalty with a power-play goal by Marcus Johansson, who banged a rebound past goalie Petr Mrazek.
When defenseman Dougie Hamilton was called for roughing Joakim Nordstrom -- turning into Nordstrom as the Bruins forward made a check along the boards -- the Bruins did it again, getting a score from Patrice Bergeron.
With two scores in 28 seconds, the Bruins had a 3-2 lead at 2:54 of the third. With Tuukka Rask making 29 saves in the game and the Bruins limiting the Canes to six shots in the third, Boston had claimed the momentum and left the Canes scrambling.
“They scored those two (power-play) goals and we didn’t get to our game after that,” said Canes center Sebastian Aho, who had a power-play score in the first period. “Everyone knows those penalties kind of cost us the game but we’ve got to stay out of the box.”
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said he did not want to discuss the calls or what appeared to be tighter officiating than usually seen in Stanley Cup playoff games.
“We took penalties. We need to kill them,” he said.
The Bruins’ Charlie Coyle had an empty-net goal and Chris Wagner then scored late for the final margin, leaving the Canes much to mull over -- and mistakes to correct -- before Game 2 on Sunday.
“I mean, we’re not going to win if we don’t play better than that,” Brind’Amour said. “We had spurts but that’s not going to be good enough.”
Aho’s score in the first period, on a deflection of an Andrei Svechnikov shot, gave the Canes a 1-1 tie. Greg McKegg’s second-period score, on a power rush to the net, then pushed the Canes ahead 2-1.
The Canes could have led by more after a dominant second period in which they had 15 shots. Brett Pesce also caught the post and Brock McGinn couldn’t finish a shorthanded scoring chance off the rush later in the period.
“In the second period we were pretty bad,” Rask said. “We were fortunate to only be down one goal.”
The Canes, who had won six straight playoff games, made some undisciplined plays in the third. Staal boarding defenseman Steven Kampfer was an uncharacteristic mistake by the veteran center. And Hamilton picked up two penalties in the third, the second for interference.
One question was answered when the teams took the ice for pregame warmups: Mrazek led the Canes out as the starting goalie. Mrazek had not played since leaving Game 2 of the New York Islanders series with a lower-body injury. Curtis McElhinney came on to win that game and the next two as the Canes swept the series.
The Canes also had forward Micheal Ferland back in the lineup. Ferland left Game 3 against the Washington Capitals with an upper-body injury and remained questionable again Thursday until the warmups were completed.
Less than three minutes into the game, the Canes trailed 1-0. After the Bergeron line had a strong shift, the Bruins scored in an unexpected fashion -- a goal by Kampfer, who had an unchecked shot from the slot after an Canes turnover at the blue line.
Kampfer, 30, was in the lineup because of Charlie McAvoy’s absence, McAvoy being handed a one-game suspension by the NHL for his illegal hit to the head in the final game of the Columbus series. It was Kampfer’s first career playoff goal.
But the Canes, quickly answered as Aho scored the power-play goal. It came 47 seconds after the Bruins and three seconds into the power play. Aho has scored in each of the past three games, a positive sign for the Canes.
The Canes lost the first two games of their first-round series against the Washington Capitals, both on the road, but recovered to beat last year’s Stanley Cup champions in seven games.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Aho said.
McKegg had another thought: “We’ve got to get to our game and stick with it for 60 minutes and be sharp in all three zones. And you’ve definitely got to stay out of the box when you play a team like this.”