BOSTON — Marcus Johansson and Patrice Bergeron scored power-play goals 28 seconds apart, and Boston scored four times in the third period to rally from a one-goal deficit and beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Tuukka Rask stopped 29 shots for Boston, which trailed 2-1 before capitalizing on back-to-back power plays. With about three minutes left, Brandon Carlo deflected a slow-rolling puck into the empty net to make it 4-2, and then 11 seconds later Chris Wagner skated in on Petr Mrazek to clinch it.
Steven Kampfer, starting for suspended defenceman Charlie McAvoy, also scored for Boston — his first career post-season goal — with about three minutes gone in the game.
Back in the net for the first time since Game 2 of the second-round series against the Islanders, Mrazek made 23 saves for the Hurricanes. Curtis McElhinney finished off New York, but coach Rod Brind’Amour went back to Mrazek when he was clear by doctors after the five-day break between series.
Sebastian Aho and Greg McKegg scored for Carolina.
It was still 2-1 when Jordan Staal was sent off for roughing in the opening minute of the third period. Johansson slammed home a rebound of Brad Marchand’s shot to tie it, and just 15 seconds later the Bruins were back on the power play when Dougie Hamilton was given 2 minutes for roughing.
Boston set up in the Hurricane’s zone, Jake DeBrusk sent the puck across the ice to Marchand, who tipped it back into the slot for Bergeron, and he slid it through Mrazek’s pads to make it 3-1.
Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour called his timeout to settle things down, but Hamilton picked up another penalty less than three minutes later.
The Bruins failed to score.
The Bigger They Are
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara took a wrist shot from Aho off the right foot late in the first period and left for the locker room, but he was back in the second.
The shot hit Chara on the outside of his right foot and the 6-foot-9 defenceman buckled over and went to the ice. He struggled to make it to the bench, and once he got there he was in obvious pain. He missed the rest of the first period but returned for the start of the second.
Boston was already without Chara’s defence partner, Charlie McAvoy, who was suspended one game for a shoulder to the head of Columbus forward Josh Anderson. McAvoy was averaging a team-high 24:26 ice time, and Chara was third.
Aho led the Hurricanes with 38 goals and 83 assists in the regular season, but he was even better against Boston. In three games, he had four goals and three assists.
In his first career playoffs, Aho now has five goals and 10 points in 12 games.
McKegg scored when he shot the puck off Rask’s shoulder and then barrelled into the goalie as the puck bounced behind him and into the net. A review confirmed that the puck crossed the line before McKegg ran into Rask.
NOTES: The franchises met in the playoffs for the fifth time, with two of those coming before the Hartford Whalers moved to Raleigh in 1997. Boston is 3-1. … The Hurricanes reassigned forward Patrick Brown and defenceman Jake Bean to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL.
Game 2 is Sunday at 3 p.m.
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Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press