After being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in two of the last three seasons by the Boston Bruins, the Carolina Hurricanes got some revenge in the First Round of the 2022 Playoffs by eliminating the Black and Gold with a 3-2 victory in Game 7 Saturday. In what was a series where all games were won by the home team, the Bruins were bounced from the playoffs after not being able to muster a complete game in any of the four games in the series on the road as they did at home.
Before we look ahead at an offseason that has plenty of “what if” questions surrounding the roster for Boston, here are five takeaways from the Bruins’ Game 7 loss in Raleigh, North Carolina.
First Period Doomed Bruins Again
The first periods in all four games in Carolina were frustrating for the Black and Gold as they went into the first intermission trailing in three of the four games. In Game 7, they were 1:24 away from getting to the end of the period with a scoreless tie, but after surviving multiple defensive breakdowns, they allowed the game’s first goal late in the period. Boston’s third line of Craig Smith, Charlie Coyle, and Trent Frederic got caught watching the puck when it went to the point to a wide-open Jaccob Slavin. The Hurricanes defenseman sent a cross-ice pass to Max Domi who made a quick pass to the front of the net where Teuvo Teravainen tapped the puck past Swayman.
To compound matters, Taylor Hall took a double-minor penalty with 58 seconds left in the period. It was not a very disciplined period for the Bruins, who were whistled for four penalties, including the double minor. Boston killed the final 3:02 of the penalty to begin the second period, but gave up a goal just 12 seconds after Hall’s penalty expired in the vulnerable minute after a penalty kill in what was a backbreaking goal to allow to face a two-goal deficit they were not able to climb out of.
Swayman Was Not Fazed by the Game 7 Moment
Following the Bruins’ 5-2 win in Game 6, coach Bruce Cassidy said that Jeremy Swayman would start Game 7 and the youngster was up for the challenge. He made 28 saves and could not have been faulted for any of the goals as he was a victim of breakdowns in the defensive zone.
Swayman made a reactionary save on Vincent Trocheck in the first period on a Carolina power play, he turned back Nino Niederreiter in the third period on a slap shot from the point and he also made multiple saves on Hall’s double-minor in the middle period. Swayman showed some poise in the final five games of the series after replacing Linus Ullmark and proved that he’s ready to be the future No. 1 netminder in Boston.
Raanta Frustrated Bruins Again
When the series began, the Hurricanes were hoping to get back No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen, who is out with a lower-body injury. That did not happen and they were forced to play Antti Raanta and as he did in three of the four games in Carolina (he left Game 2 with an injury after a collision with David Pastrnak) he came up with some big saves early and allowed his team to get ahead and stay ahead late in the opening period.
Boston’s biggest scoring chances came midway through the first period when Hall and Erik Haula broke in 2-on-1. Haula delivered a tape-to-tape pass to Hall and Raanta slid right to left and made a nice save to keep the game scoreless. Raanta was helped by his defense who did a nice job of limiting the Bruins’ opportunities and allowed the 33-year-old to see most of the shots. Raanta finished the series with a 2.37 goals-against average (GAA) and a .927 save percentage (SV%).
Domi Eliminates Bruins in Game 7
At the trade deadline in March, there were several teams interested in Domi and in talks with the Columbus Blue Jackets to acquire the veteran forward. The Bruins were interested in him, but he ultimately went to the Hurricanes in a late trade deadline deal and he single-handily ended the Black and Gold’s playoff run in Game 7.
Through the first six games, Domi tallied just two assists, but the 27-year-old made up for it when it mattered most in Game 7. He had two goals and an assist with both of his goals being backbreakers. After setting up the first goal, he scored Carolina’s second goal right after the double-minor on Hall. After Jake DeBrusk answered in the second period for the Bruins’ to cut the deficit in half, Domi regained the two-goal Hurricanes lead shortly after DeBrusk’s goal when he one-timed a pass from Teravainen inside the post for a 3-1 lead right after Frederic hit the post down the other end for Boston.
Hurricanes Played a Perfect Third Period
Scoring goals all season against Carolina has been a struggle for the Bruins on the road, so when they entered the third period trailing by two goals, they were up against it. The Hurricanes are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL and that was on full display in the final 20 minutes.
Related: Bruins’ Lack of Scoring Depth Proving Costly Against Hurricanes
The Bruins finished the final period with 11 shots on the net, but Carolina made things very difficult the whole period for Boston. They did a nice job of having layers of black shirts at the blueline, they did not allow the Black and Gold to enter the zone cleanly or with speed, and their pressure on the puck and backchecking was nearly perfect. Pastrnak did score a goal with 21 seconds left to cut the deficit to 3-2 and the Bruins had two more chances in the final couple of seconds, but the Hurricanes, who did not allow a shot on Boston’s only power-play chance in the third period, did a nice job of blocking shots and holding on to advance to the Second Round against with the New York Rangers or Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bruins Eliminated by the Better Team
In the overall picture, the Hurricanes were the deeper, younger, and better team than the Bruins. After losing the first two games, not many people gave Boston a chance to even get to a Game 7. They held serve on their home ice and needed only one win away from the TD Garden to advance, but were not able to get a game at PNC Arena. Now, the Bruins begin an offseason with questions surrounding their captain and his future, as well as the roster construction going into the 2022-23 season. A lot of questions will be answered over the next four months.