The Boston Bruins won all three games against the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden, including a 5-2 triumph in Game 6. But Game 7 is back in Raleigh on Saturday, where the Hurricanes have won three games by a collective score of 15-4.
To progress to the second round, the Bruins will have to play their best at a site where they have performed poorly.
“I’m not going to lie. We’d rather be at home,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But if we had to, we’d play them on Mars. We want to get started right now.”
The Bruins raced through Game 6 with a big home crowd behind them and the opportunity to influence line matchups owing to getting the last change. Brad Marchand’s fourth goal of the playoffs came in Boston, and Charlie Coyle’s second-period goal put them up after a 0-0 first period. With a goal of 3:24 into the third period, Carolina winger Andrei Svechnikov made it interesting, but goals by Erik Haula, Derek Forbort, and Curtis Lazar in an 8:35 stretch put the game out of reach.
“It felt like they capitalized on every mistake we made,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We became discouraged, and instead of persevering, we attempted to do too much.”
It was a squandered opportunity for the Hurricanes to finish off an experienced opponent who had eliminated them in two of the previous three postseasons.
“Right now, it’s difficult,” Brind’Amour said. “To be honest with you, it should feel harsh. But then you wake up and realize you have a chance.”
The Bruins had won both previous games in Boston by reuniting the “Perfection Line” of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. They fueled their attack in Games 3 and 4, but Cassidy chose not to rejoin them in Game 6 instead of putting Jake DeBrusk on the top line and returning Pastrnak to his regular-season streak alongside Haula and Taylor Hall.
“We had to shut out some sounds in Game 3,” Cassidy explained. “That can be challenging for players at times, so we reverted to a formula that previously worked well. We utilized that statement to energize the crew a little. Today was more about how successful we were earlier in the season.”
Both lines scored goals as a result of the switch.
The return of Hampus Lindholm, acquired from the Anaheim Ducks before the trade deadline, also helped the Bruins. He played in the first two games of the series but was forced to leave Game 2 due to an upper-body ailment. He made a big defensive play in the first period, breaking up a two-on-one by Carolina’s top line.
“They’ve been confident at home,” Lindholm explained. “It’ll be exciting for us to enter as the underdog. Show them what we’ve got. They believe it will be straightforward. We have to keep showing up like this.”
Jeremy Swayman (23 stops) of the Boston Bruins was outstanding against the Hurricanes.
“He’s a young boy who doesn’t mind the time of year,” Cassidy explained. “We’ll see how things go for him in the future. Everyone enjoys a good Game 7.”
The Hurricanes will play in front of their boisterous crowd after their tremendous win against the Bruins.
“We would have wanted to end it here,” said defenseman Jaccob Slavin. “We only need to go home and finish the job. You receive the last change at home, which is a benefit. But you must still come to play.”
Carolina’s goal is to keep serving at home. The Bruins are finally achieving what they knew they needed to do, like the underdog going into the series.
“We have to win one away game,” Cassidy stated. “That is what we have in front of us. We were aware of this when we began this series. At least one, if we are to progress. So there you have it.”