The Boston Bruins have the Carolina Hurricanes right where they want them thanks to a 2-1 victory in Game Three on Tuesday night. That puts Boston ahead three games to zero in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Final and leaves the Hurricanes on the brink of elimination.
Boston will have the opportunity to complete the sweep Thursday night.
“This year, I feel like we really have each other’s backs,” goalie Tuukka Rask said. “We’ve been in some tight games, and then our depth comes in, and we score some goals and we take over the games.”
That was the case on Tuesday, with the Bruins withstanding a bombardment of Hurricanes shots early to essentially pick their moment.
Rask made 35 saves for his squad and they improved to win six straight playoff games, the first time they’ve done that since 1978. And now they’re a win away from their third Stanley Cup Final berth in nine years.
Curtis McElhinney was back in goal for Carolina and that was the wise move, what with Petr Mrazek allowing 10 goals in the first two games of this series. But the damage has been done, even if McElhinney improved his team’s fortunes and gave them more to work with.
Now rather than talking about “storm surges,” the Hurricanes have to remind everyone that only four teams in NHL history have come back from being down 3-0 in a series. One of those teams was the 2014 edition of the Los Angeles Kings and Hurricanes captain Justin Williams was part of that comeback.
That will be, of course, part of the story when Thursday’s game gets underway in Raleigh. And that hope will fuel these Hurricanes, but at the end hope can only go so far.
The Bruins have thus far had all the answers. Rask has made saves and, yes, depth has come through. On Tuesday, it was the fourth line that fired home the big finish. Chris Wagner had his second of the post-season at 1:21 of the second period to open the scoring and Brad Marchand had a power play goal just a hair over five minutes later.
That was all it took and that’s been the MO for these Bruins. Small moments have been powering big wins and will, in all likelihood, pave their way to the Final once more.
Even with Carolina outshooting and outhitting them, Boston held it down. And the writing is on the wall.
“There’s no way around it. There’s no way to sugarcoat it,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We got kicked in the you-know-where.”
(Photo credit: Jamie Kellner)