It’s time for the Carolina Hurricanes to take warning.
The Boston Bruins, after the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, have taken control of the series while leaving the Canes shaken. The Bruins not only took a 6-2 victory in Game 2 on Sunday, they had the Canes discombobulated at TD Garden.
The Canes couldn’t stop the Bruins 5-on-5. The Bruins were dominant 5-on-4 and 4-on-5, scoring twice on the power play while stifling the Canes’ attempts at running one.
“Our 5-on-5 was not good enough, our special teams were not good enough,” Canes center Jordan Staal said. “It’s just all around, everything. Everyone has got to chip in, everyone has got to grind harder.”
Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk scored, twice. Defenseman Connor Clifton scored. That in itself explains how good a day it was for the Bruins and how tough it was for the Hurricanes — Grzelcyk scored three goals during the regular season and Clifton’s goal was the first of his NHL career.
Canes captain Justin Williams was sent to the penalty box in the second period for holding the Bruins’ Brad Marchand, that after Marchand had hooked his stick blade around Williams’ neck.
No penalty on Marchand, just on Williams for the retaliation, for grabbing him by his helmet chin strap. And Marchand, the Bruins’ bad boy, mocked Williams after play was stopped, forming a “C” with his fingers on his sweater.
Williams later blamed himself for being baited by Marchand, saying, “I’ve got to know better.”
It was mostly an easy day for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who has been at his cool, efficient best in the playoffs. Rask’s shutout bid ended in the third period when Williams redirected a Justin Faulk shot for a score, and Teuvo Teravainen later added a goal. But it was 6-0 before the Canes scored.
“They’re obviously playing solid hockey but as a group we haven’t done a good enough job of grinding them out,” Staal said.
The Bruins needed a third-period rally to top the Canes 5-2 in Game 1, taking the lead with two power-play goals and then adding two more late scores.
Bruins never trailed in game
The Bruins got their first score late in the first period when Grzelcyk, who earlier had been blasted on a hit by the Canes’ Micheal Ferland, beat Canes goalie Petr Mrazek with a shot at the post that went under Mrazek’s right arm for a 1-0 lead.
“That was a tough one,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
For the Canes, a long, frustrating day had begun. Williams was called for tripping and Jake DeBrusk scored on the power play to finish a 2-0 first period, banging a rebound past Mrazek with 1:28 left in the period.
“The steam was taken out when they (scored) at the end of the period,” Brind’Amour said. “We needed an answer and we didn’t have one.”
Clifton scored in the second, as did Grzelcyk on a power play. Make it 4-0 after two.
Brind’Amour said the coaches talked about pulling Mrazek but said, “He doesn’t want to come out. He’s a battler. Other guys on the bench deserve to come out if that’s how we’re doing it, so that’s not how we do it.”
No letup in the third by the Bruins. David Backes, then Danton Heinen scored. Defenseman Torey Krug kept picking up assists — he had three for the game and has 10 in the playoffs.
Williams finally got the Canes a goal but there was little solace in it, or Teravainen’s.
“They’re playing their game and we haven’t got to ours,” Brind’Amour said.
Canes back in Raleigh for Game 3
The Canes will go back to Raleigh for Games 3 and 4 with a number of questions to be answered.
Who should be the starting goalie? Curtis McElhinney likely will get his chance for the Canes, having won three straight games to close out the sweep of the New York Islanders after Mrazek was injured.
What about the lines? Brind’Amour did some shuffling Sunday and may do some more.
How to get to Rask? The Boston goalie has been terrific and the Canes must crowd the crease and as Williams said before Game 2, make things uncomfortable for him and break his rhythm.
In their first-round series, the Canes trailed the Washington Capitals 2-0 after the first two games and beat last year’s Stanley Cup champions in seven. That’s something for them to keep in mind, even though the first two games against the Caps were more competitive.
“We’ve got to rediscover who we are,” Williams said.