The Boston Bruins are just one step away from clinching the title of the Eastern Conference and a ticket to the NHL Stanley Cup finals. They defeated Carolina Hurricanes on the road and increased their advantage in the series to 3-0.
The incredibly intense and physical game in Raleigh ended with them outlasting the hosts with 1-2, and putting them in a difficult position, from which the Hurricanes have no way out.
And they are aware of that. Carolina’s coach Rob Brind’Amour stated that after the last night’s event.
“We’re not going to beat them four times [Thursday] or the next game,” Brind’Amour said. ” I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We got kicked you know where, and it’s going to hurt for a while.”
What hurts the most is the fact that hosts had their chances at the beginning of the game, but failed to use them. Believe it or not, Tuukka Rask had 20 of his total 35 saves in that period alone, while on the other hand, Bruins had just six shots on goal.
“Right now, he’s in the zone. He’s been amazing. He’s a huge reason why we’re here right now,” said Patrice Bergeron about Rask.
The Finnish goalkeeper was unreal. In the moments when Hurricanes had the powerplay chances, Rask was their savior. Boston killed all five penalties in this match, and four of them were in the opening period.
“Being in the zone, nobody knows what that means. But the way I usually want to play, I want to play calm and make myself look big and try to make tough chances look easy,” Rask explained his view of the phrase “zone.”
The first period was very physical. The fans saw 10 penalties combined, four for the home team and six for the visitors. It was obvious that the Hurricanes are desperate to win the game and to keep their chances in this series,
But the atmosphere inside the PNC Arena suddenly deflated, when Chris Wagner scored for the Bruins with 1:21 into the start of the second sequence. It was after Joakim Nordstrom’s pass, when Wagner just redirected the puck from near the crease behind Curtis McElhinney, who replaced Petr Mrazek in front of the net.
Before the home team managed to recover from the shock, it was already 2-0. A little bit more than five minutes after that, Brad Marchand beat McElhinney with a backhand shot, which hit Calvin de Haan in the glove and deceived Hurricanes goalie. That goal came on a powerplay after Nino Niederreiter received a minor penalty for high sticking.
Carolina tried to come back, and they did bring in some excitement in the match when Calvin de Haan redeemed for the earlier goal, by scoring one with 6:12 left in the same period.
And that was it from the hosts. They didn’t have the strength to turn the result or even to level the score and force overtime. Everything was in the hands of excellent Rask, who once again stepped up when needed and closed all the paths towards his net.
Rask told the media after the match that Bruins had games like this one in which they open the game slow, and the opponent comes at them with everything he has. He also added that in the majority of such cases they got away with a win. Because of that his crew knows how to act when a similar situation comes around.
“This year, I feel like we really have each other’s backs,” 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.”
The next game is out Thursday night. Carolina hopes to avoid elimination in front of their own crowd, which would be a pretty lousy way to end the season. Two regular -season matches were played before Game 3 in Raleigh, and each side won once.
Last night’s loss was the first one for them after eight consecutive wins at PNC Arena. According to all the players, it was pretty painful. But that pain won’t be near the one caused by a defeat on Thursday.
Game 4 starts at 8 p.m. ET.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write, read, and bet on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a betting tips writer at WagerBop.