When opportunity knocked, the Boston Bruins answered. Twice. The Bruins scored a pair of power-play goals 28 seconds apart early in the third period and overpowered the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, 5-2 at TD Garden.
Carolina led the Bruins 2-1 after two periods but the Bunch of Jerks looked unprepared when the Bruins applied heavy pressure in the final period. Dougie Hamilton took a pair of interference penalties in the third period, and the first was the game changer which led to a pair of quick-strike Bruins goals.
Trade deadline acquisition Marcus Johansson (3) scored the first power-play goal when he cleaned up the garbage in the crease. Before the crowd had a chance to take a breathe, Patrice Bergeron (6) slipped into the slot and buried a quick pass from Brad Marchand.
Boston led 3-2 and roared for the remainder of the third period. Boston had six of the first seven scoring chances.
Charlie Coyle (6) and Chris Wagner (1) added more third period goals.
Carolina quickly found their legs after Kampfer’s marker. Bruins grinder Sean Kuraly roughed Brock McGinn and Carolina scored on the resulting power play.
Sebastian Aho (5) neatly deflected Andrei Svechnikov’s point shot.
Fourth line journeyman Greg McKegg (2) powered past David Krejci from the wall and sniped a beauty over Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask midway through the second period. Carolina led but could not hold back the Bruins.
One of the keys to the series is the special teams battle. Through the first two periods of Game 1, the Hurricanes had the edge. Before the series, the Carolina power play conversion percentage ranked dead last in the league but used the man advantage for the early goal.
Carolina limited Boston to only two power plays through two periods but Boston took full advantage of two bad penalties by Carolina in the third period.
Game. Set. Match. Boston claimed a 1-0 series lead.
Through parts of the game, the Bruins had difficulty breaking the neutral zone. What makes Carolina so challenging to play against is their relentless style of forechecking in the neutral zone. The Hurricanes are relentlessly attacking the puck which makes it hard for teams to enter the attacking zone. Boston found success entering the zone late in the second period. That carried into the third period.
Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour refused to name a starting goalie before the game. Petr Mrazek was coming off an injury in the previous series so it appeared that Curtis McElhinney would get the start. However, in the projected line combinations Mrazek was in the starters role. As the team hit the ice for warmups, Mrazek led the team out of the tunnel. Considering how much time Mrazek missed because an injury, he played well.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has been playing on another level. Both Mrazek and Rask made remarkable saves but Rask stopped 29 of 31 shots.
Some people may have underestimated the Carolina goaltending. Mrazek was very good, but stopped only 23 of 27 and couldn’t thwart the Bruins third period onslaught.
Notes from the Game:
Patrice Bergeron has five power play goals in the 2019 Stanley Cup Play, the most by any Bruin in one playoff year since Cam Neely in 1991 (which is the Bruins franchise record).