Boston takes the lead with a balanced attack and never looks back.
Boston, MA- It took six starts, but the Boston Bruins finally scored the first goal of the game in their series against the Carolina Hurricanes, and they held on for a solid 5-2 win to force a do or die game seven match in Raleigh, NC on Saturday afternoon.
“I love it,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “This is what you play for. Guys should be excited. Game 7, Stanley Cup playoffs. Home or road. We’d rather be at home, not going to lie to you, but we’d play them on Mars if we had to. That’s what it’s all about. I’m sure they’d say the same thing.”
A scoreless first period was highlighted by starting netminders Antti Raanta (29 saves) and Jeremy Swayman (23 saves) trading saves as the Hurricanes had the advantage in most statistical categories. The biggest play of the period was when Hampus Lindholm broke up a Carolina two-on-one off a Bruins turnover and defensive partner Charlie McAvoyleveled Sebastian Aho in the slot.
Lindholm returned to action for the first time since game two when he got injured on an Andrei Svechnikov hit at the side of the Bruins’ net. The 6′-4″ Swede was instrumental in Boston’s bid to stave off elimination.
“It was a clean, good hit,” said Lindholm of the McAvoy hit. “That’s playoff hockey right there. I know when I break up a play like that I try to get the puck up quick, but he came and cleaned it up for me there. It was a good play om his end.”
Early in the second period, the Bruins’ Brad Marchand carried into the Hurricanes’ zone and fired off a wrist shot that beat Raanta nearside to give the Bruins the 1-0 lead forty-six seconds into the period. It was the first time the Bruins didn’t have to chase the game after the opening goal. Connor Clifton and Charlie Coyle assisted on Marchand’s fourth of the playoffs.
The Bruins killed off four Carolina power-play opportunities during the second period. The Hurricanes had a five-on-three advantage that Boston fought through at one point. The Bruins held the Hurricanes to two shots on goal on five power plays as Carolina’s man-advantage continued scoreless at TD Garden (0-15). Those two shots that Carolina landed on the power play both hit the crossbar as Boston had some puck luck on their side.
“We had some puck luck tonight,” admitted Cassidy. “They (Carolina) hit a couple of crossbars. Other nights those go in. that comes into play too. We had a little puck luck around the front of the net on the second (Bruins) goal.”
Boston capitalized on their power-play chance of the middle frame when Coyle tipped in a David Pastrnak slapshot rebound to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead at 18:04. The Bruins worked the puck from right to left and got Pastrnak, his one-timer from the left dot that Raanta stopped, but the rebound went straight to Coyle as he got positioning on Aho in front of goal to slap the rebound past a sprawling Raanta. Pastrnak and Marchand assisted on Coyle’s second of the series.
Carolina was right back in it to start the third. The Hurricanes pulled to within a goal at 3:24 when Svechnikov rifled a Seth Jarvis pass past Swayman from the left circle. Svechnikov’s goal was his second of the series and first of two on the night.
Boston responded to Carolina’s pressure when Erik Haula broke his scoring drought at 7:08. The 5′-11″ Finnish centerman redirected a McAvoy pass past Raanta at the top of the crease to pick up his first postseason goal. McAvoy had the lone assist, but the effort was a total team one as the Bruins dominated in the Carolina zone for a solid minute before netting the goal to regain their two-goal advantage.
Boston picked up another goal from an unlikely source at 10:43 when defenseman Derek Forbort‘s wrist shot from the blue line redirected off a Hurricanes player past Raanta to make it 3-1. Tomas Nosek picked up the lone helper on Forbort’s first goal.
Curtis Lazar added an empty-net goal at 15:43 to give Boston a comfortable 4-1 lead as the sell-out TD Garden crowd celebrated the fact that their team was still alive for one more day.
Svechnikov added a power-play goal at 17:30 when he one-timed a Martin Necas pass past Swayman from the right dot for his second of the game.
“You hope you make the right call for the right reasons,” Cassidy said on returning his lines to what they were during the season. “Tonight it worked out for us. We’ll see what we have to do in Carolina.”
“We’ve got to win, now, one road game,” added Cassidy. “That’s what’s in front of us. We knew that when we started the series. You have to win a road game, at least one, if we wanted to win. So here it is.”
The Bruins and Hurricanes will square off for game seven at 4:30 pm EST Saturday at PNC Arena. It is the 29th game seven in franchise history for the Bruins, and it is number nine for the Hurricanes.