The Boston Bruins scored the first six goals including a pair by defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and a tally by depth defenseman Connor Clifton. Boston dominated the third period in Game 1 and in Game 2 they resumed control of the puck and play. They left the Carolina Hurricanes searching for their mojo and a way to stop the onslaught as the Bruins never relented en route to a 6-2 blowout in Game 2 at the TD Garden. The Bruins lead the Eastern Conference Final 2-0 and are officially halfway home to a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.
Carolina Hurricanes were ready to roll and gave the Bruins everything they could handle in the first five minutes of Game 2. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was stellar during the Carolina hot start. Rask kept the game scoreless before the Bruins attacked.
Grzelcyk (2, 3) and Jake DeBrusk each scored late in the first period and the Bruins led 2-0. Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek gifted Grzelcyk the soft tally by not hugging the post and the puck dribbled behind the goalie. The goal was a harbinger of good things for the Bruins and bad things, very bad things, for Carolina.
DeBrusk (3) scored yet another powerplay marker for a Bruins special teams which have been just beyond lethal in the Eastern Conference Final.
Early in the second period, Clifton (1) sniped his first career playoff goal. After Bruins defender Charlie McAvoy raced into the Carolina zone and Marcus Johansson’s shot was partially blocked, Clifton fired the puck into the yawning cage. The Bruins swarmed while Carolina chased the game.
Late in the second period, Grzelcyk added his second of the game. David Backes (2) and Danton Heinen (2) would polish off the scoring for the Bruins in this one, both scoring within the frame’s first 4:32 of play.
The Hurricanes snagged a pair of late goals. Justin Williams (4) neatly deflected Justin Faulk’s point shot through traffic to end Rask’s shutout. A few minutes later, Rask tried to clear a loose puck but his attempt was immediately intercepted by Teuvo Teravainen (7) who zipped it into the abandoned net.
Rask stopped 21 shots for his tenth victory of the playoffs. Mrazek managed only 19 saves on 25 shots. His soft goals and .760 save percentage sunk Carolina in Game 2.
The Bruins were 2-for-2 on the powerplay and are now over 50% (4 for 7) in the series. Boston’s powerplay has been a huge difference in this series, and is arguably the biggest reason why they head to Carolina for Game 3 with a 2-0 series lead. Helping the Bruins, Carolina keeps taking bad penalties. If that trend continues, this series could be over very quickly.
Expect the Hurricanes need to make a goaltending change. Mrazek simply isn’t providing the Hurricanes with the kind of goaltending they need to compete in this series he doesn’t look stable. He has never before advanced this far as a starting goalie and appears to be buckling.
Mrazek simply isn’t getting it done. Look for 1A goalie Curtis McElhinney, who was solid after he stepped in for an injured Mrazek in Game 3 of the Round Two.
If Carolina needs their defense to be the difference. The biggest Carolina strength is their blueline, which features some elite puck-movers like Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Justin Faulk. Through two games, the Bruins have limited or eliminated all four of those players. Hamilton has taken several bad penalties, too.
Meanwhile, the Bruin defense has been dominant. The defensemen contributed three goals Sunday. In addition to the offense, the rearguards have been steady in their own zone, too. Even when the top guns like McAvoy and Zdeno Chara aren’t providing offense, the depth players provided the offense.
The Bruins have the look of a championship team and that was on display Sunday. Halfway to the Final.