The atmosphere at PNC Arena Tuesday night was everything the Boston Bruins expected. After a day filled with tailgating, the locals were as ready and anxious for the start as the Carolina Hurricanes who dominated the first period. However, the Bruins not only weathered the storm surge but Brad Marchand scored another power-play goal and goalie Tuukka Rask was spectacular. Boston asserted themselves with a 2-1 win and a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final.
In the first period, it looked like the Hurricanes would keep their perfect playoff home record. Carolina outshot the Bruins 20-6 in the first 20 minutes. Carolina had 15 of the 20 total scoring chances and pushed the Bruins, but Rask was the story of the game. He denied numerous Carolina chances before the Bruins gained their footing.
“You need to get something out of that period, obviously. Not getting anything is a little bit demoralizing,” said Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “…You’ve got to come away with something after all that.”
The Bruins responded with the first two goals of the game.
In the first 90 seconds of the second period, the Bruins silenced the crowd. Chris Wagner (2) tapped a perfect feed from Joakim Nordstrom at the side of the goal. Wagner slipped past Hurricanes’ defender Justin Faulk for the open tip.
Six minutes into the second period, Brad Marchand (6) also got past Faulk and banked a backhand shot from the slot off of Calvin de Hann past Carolina goalie Curtis McElhinney. It was another power-play goal from the lethal Bruins man advantage and within minutes, the hot Carolina start was a two-goal deficit.
Rask continued to make remarkable saves. Amazing stops. And was otherwise brilliant.
Carolina defenseman Calvin de Hann (1) finally scored for Carolina later in the second period but that was the only goal Carolina could sneak past Rask.
In the third period, the Bruins nearly salted the game but Torey Krug’s powerplay blast was immediately waved off after Jake DeBrusk collided with McElhinney just outside the crease. Although it appeared Carolina defender Jaccob Slavin contributed to the goalie contact, the ‘no goal’ call was confirmed after a challenge.
It was a tense race to the finish but Rask remained unbeatable. The Hurricanes (5-1) lost their first home game in the playoffs.
The story of this game was Rask. Who essentially stole Game 3. Rask was under fire in the first minute of the game and was forced to make four terrific saves within the first 90 seconds. He gave the Bruins a chance to settle things down after the Carolina attack. Rask stopped all 20 shots in the first period and kept Carolina off the board until the B’s had insurance.
Boston now holds a stranglehold on this series, up 3-0 over the Hurricanes. A victory in Game 4 on Thursday would push the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2013 and would mark Carolina’s second straight Conference Final appearance that ends in a sweep.