The Boston Bruins are in full control of the Eastern Conference final after giving the Caroline Hurricanes their first loss at home in the 2019 playoffs. Boston improved to 3-0 in the series and is just one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals.
Rask on fire
The Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has elevated his game to a new level in the playoffs. He only allowed two goals in each of the first two games of the series, then only let one in on 36 shots in Game 3 on Tuesday.
The Hurricanes’ lack of goals was not from a lack of effort. The Bruins trailed in shots in the first period 20-6 after taking six penalties and giving the Hurricanes several power-play opportunities, which resulted in a 0-0 score at the end of the first period.
Bruins Offense Does Just Enough
With Rask locked in and stopping the surge of the Hurricanes in the first, the Bruins offense was able to fire back. The Bruins put up two goals 5:07 apart in the second period. Brad Marchand scored the second and eventual game-winning goal. The Bruins are 22-1 all-time when Marchand scores in a playoff game.
The Bruins’ lower lines continue to prove effective in the playoffs this year. Chris Wagner had a goal in the second period, and head coach Bruce Cassidy trusted his hustling 3rd and 4th line late in the third period to maintain their one-goal lead.
Goalie Change Still Not Enough
The Hurricanes made the move to goaltender Curtis McElhinney after starter Petr Mrasek gave up 11 goals in the first two games of the series. McElhinney put up a much better fight for the Hurricanes, but the offense was only able to produce one goal despite five power plays, including a 5-on-4 and a 5-on-3. The Hurricanes’ new starting goaltender faced 31 shots and was able to stop 29. I would expect Carolina to keep him in moving forward and hope for more from their goal scorers on the other end of the ice.
Can the Hurricanes Remain Calm?
It is almost impossible to lose by a combined seven goals in the first two games of a series, only score one goal in Game 3 despite five power plays, and lose by one goal for your first loss at home, and not get frustrated. That is what the Hurricanes will have to do if they want to keep their season alive.
Any time a team is in a tough spot, the first place you look is to the leadership to keep everyone focused. The Hurricanes have to look for someone to step up and get everyone on the same page. In the big Game 3 on Tuesday night, Hurricanes captain Justin Williams seemed to be caught up more in the battle with Bruins Brad Marchand and Torrey Krug. Williams took three penalties in the first period while the Hurricanes were looking to take control of the game.
The Carolina Hurricanes still have hope in the series despite being down 0-3. The Canes have been great at home during the playoffs this year, they outshot the Bruins in Game 3, and they spent more time on the attack than Boston. The Hurricanes will look for a few more bounces to go their way in Game 4 and hope for a slip-up or two from Tuukka Rask.
Despite the Hurricanes’ strong rush in Game 3 and having home ice again in Game 4, it is too hard to put any money against the Bruins at this point in the playoffs. Rask is playing extremely well at exactly the right time, and Boston is getting scoring from all four lines. The Bruins have now won six straight playoff games for the first time since 1978. I would expect to see their seventh to complete the sweep on Thursday. I’m taking the Bruins and under 5½.