The Boston Bruins have accumulated five straight postseason wins, a streak that includes the first two games of their playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Dating back to Game 4 of their second-round series versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, they have outscored opponents 22-8.
After taking the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final, Boston can’t sit back. Entering Game 3, the Hurricanes will be face-to-face with what is virtually a must-win game. While it’s been done before (as the Bruins know far too well), digging yourself out of a 3-0 hole is a daunting task. It’s a fate Carolina will attempt to evade at all costs.
The Bruins must be ready for the Hurricanes to come out with a fire in their bellies. In survival mode and with the home crowd behind them, Carolina will be coming at the Bruins with everything they’ve got. Boston must match that intensity if they want the opportunity to end the series in Game 4.
Bruins Take the Series by Storm
The Bruins had a lackluster start to the third round. They were overwhelmed by the Hurricanes throughout the first 40 minutes of the series and were lucky to enter the third period of Game 1 down just one goal.
By capitalizing on two power plays in the final frame, Boston nabbed themselves a lead that was added onto via a Charlie Coyle empty-netter. Chris Wagner went on to tally an unassisted goal in the closing minutes to sink whatever hope Carolina had left, solidifying the 5-2 victory.
Boston had no rust to shake off entering the second matchup of the series. Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk got them on the board in the final five minutes of the first frame while Jake DeBrusk tallied a power play goal just minutes later.
Connor Clifton added to the lead with his first NHL goal before Grzelcyk potted his second of the game. The rout was on, and the Bruins seemed to have every intention to demoralize their opponent entering the third period. They posted two more goals in the first five minutes of the frame before sitting back, resulting in two tallies from Carolina.
The afternoon concluded with a decisive 6-2 victory for the home team; a win they should certainly feel good about. The Hurricanes showed signs of life late in the game, however, fighting until the final horn. This may have two effects on the two teams: it could give Carolina a sense of hope, and it could resemble a wake-up call for Boston.
The Game 2 loss was a tough pill for the Hurricanes to swallow. Despite some heavy hits and their 23 shots on goal (only a few of which represented real scoring threats), Carolina looked like they weren’t ready to play. Their power play, which has succeeded on just 11.1-percent of their chances this postseason, failed to capitalize on four opportunities. To make matters worse, all four penalties taken by the Bruins had sent a penalty killer to the box, amplifying the Hurricanes chances of scoring with the man advantage – to no avail.
Bruins & Hurricanes Keys to Game 3
With must-win scenarios comes desperate energy; something Carolina will wield in Game 3. They will wear their emotions on their sleeves, dishing out hits whenever possible, and look to beat the Bruins to every loose puck.
The key for the Hurricanes will be staying composed. While they must use the home crowd and the surge of energy that often comes with it, they need to ensure they aren’t being sent to the box multiple times per period. The Bruins have been able to capitalize on these lapses in judgment and use that to fuel themselves to victory.
Boston will also have to be composed but in more ways than one. Staying out of the box is certainly important, but if the Hurricanes bring their A-game on Tuesday, the Bruins may find themselves a step behind in the opening frame. The subconscious effects of a comfortable lead and being on the road could weigh down on them – but they can’t allow that to define their performance.
The Bruins must avoid the start they had in Game 1. It’s a scenario that the Hurricanes have undoubtedly learned from and an opportunity they will pounce on if it comes about once again. Boston needs to battle hard to ensure they don’t fall two steps behind their opponent, opening the door for a blowout at their expense.
Boston’s depth, including their trade deadline acquisitions, has come up big when they needed it most. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have been held at bay throughout the team’s lengthy postseason run thus far. While these three have finally begun to see some consistent scoring, the bottom-three lines need to keep putting pucks into the back of the net for continued success.
Game 3 is always a pivotal game in a best-of-seven series, and this one is no exception. With a victory, the Bruins keep their dreams of a playoff sweep alive. If the Hurricanes can bounce back, they will be given the chance to even up the series at home in Game 4. Despite Boston’s dominant performance in Games 1 and 2, this series could still go either way and the brooms should remain in the closet for the time being.