The Boston Bruins weren’t exactly nurturing during a 6-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead on Mothers’ Day.
Controversy swirled around penalty calls that helped the Bruins turn Game 1 on its head, but there wasn’t a whole lot of drama in Game 2 beyond “should Rod Brind’Amour replace Petr Mrazek or keep Curtis McElhinney on the bench?” Yes, it was that kind of afternoon for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Honestly, that 6-2 score feels generous to Carolina, as both of the Hurricanes’ goals were of the late, “garbage” variety. Consider how dizzying the last four periods had been for Mrazek and the Carolina Hurricanes, aside from a faint push to save some face.
- Heading into the third period of Game 1, the Hurricanes were up 2-1.
- The Bruins scored all four goals of that third period to win Game 1 by a score of 5-2.
- Things were close for most of the first period of Game 2, but then Boston fired in two quick goals.
- The B’s fattened that lead to 4-0 through the second period, making a dazzling Mrazek stick save feel like a footnote.
- Brind’Amour stuck with Mrazek in the third period, to some surprise. Things … well, didn’t get much better from there. The Bruins pushed things to 6-0 before allowing two goals when things were clearly out of reach.
Frankly, it would be more comforting for Carolina if the Hurricanes could merely blame everything on Mrazek. While he would regret some of the goals allowed – particularly the first of two by Matt Grzelcyk, and the first of Connor Clifton‘s career – the Hurricanes aren’t down 2-0 in this series because of leaky goaltending alone.
Carolina must address some key issues as Game 3 approaches on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN; stream here).
For one thing, the Bruins are absolutely dominating the special teams battle, to a greater extreme than expected.
Carrying over the momentum from scoring two power-play goals during that four-goal third period from Game 1, the Bruins went 2-for-2 on the power play in Game 2. Those power-play goals happened when the contest was still in doubt, really cementing the thought that the Bruins hold a significant advantage when it comes to the man advantage.
Failing on the penalty kill was rough enough for Carolina, yet the Hurricanes’ power play has been sputtering. They went 0-for-4 in Game 2, and in a telling moment, Patrice Bergeron set up Danton Heinen‘s goal shortly after leaving the penalty box on a failed Hurricanes power play.
Maybe the Hurricanes will gain a little bit of confidence from gaining two late goals in Game 2, even if they were generally inconsequential. If nothing else, the Hurricanes finally halted a dominant run for the Bruins, as Boston had scored 10 consecutive goals from the third period of Game 1 through much of Game 2.
Aside from that outburst in garbage time, the Hurricanes need to prove they can regularly threaten Tuukka Rask and the Bruins. The special teams battle needs to at least be closer to a draw, rather than the one-sided drubbing we’ve seen so far. And, yes, the Hurricanes must get some more saves — whether it’s Mrazek stopping those pucks, or if Carolina turns to Curtis McElhinney.
The Hurricanes found themselves down 2-0 against the defending champion Washington Capitals in Round 1, only to turn things around in front of rabid home fans to eventually win that series in seven games. In fact, the Hurricanes haven’t lost a home playoff game during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so expect a far better effort from Carolina against Boston in Game 3 on Tuesday.
The frustrating and comforting thought is that Carolina hasn’t been anywhere near its best so far during the 2019 Eastern Conference Final, and it’s shown on the scoreboard.
Carolina doesn’t have a long time to figure things out, however, as the Bruins are looking almost unstoppable in Round 3.
The Hurricanes host the Bruins in Game 3 on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN; stream here).
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.