It makes for quite the concoction.
Scoring first always puts the conceding team on the back foot. The Carolina Hurricanes know all about that — they’re 4-0 in this postseason when they pot the first goal of the game.
But the Boston Bruins have been able to pip their opponents to that first marker during a four-game winning streak that’s seen them see off the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games and now take a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final into Game 2 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC).
And in three of those wins, that first goal has come from someone outside the ‘Big Three’ on forward.
David Pastrnak got that all-important strike in Game 4 against the Blue Jackets, a goal that proved pivot in the Bruins turning around a 2-1 deficit in that series. David Krejci then went on to score first in each of the next two games and Steven Kampfer gave Boston an early lead in Game 1 against the Hurricanes last Thursday.
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Secondary scoring played a big part in Game 6 for the Bruins, where Krejci was on point in the second, followed by goals from Marcus Johansson and David Backes in a 3-0 shutout win to send Columbus out.
In Game 1, Johansson was once again on point, scoring the tying goal in the third. After Patrice Bergeron‘s goal to take a 3-2 lead, Charlie Coyle and Chris Wagner each found twine to put that game out of reach.
Side note: Johannson’s emergence with two goals in this past two games has been a welcomed sight after he was picked up at the trade deadline.
The harmony between top-line production and secondary scoring has been well in sync during this streak. Carolina has to devote a lot to shutting down Bergeron, Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. It doesn’t feel like feast or famine right now for the Bruins and their top trio. They’re dangerous, and the secondary guys are picking up the scraps when offered.
The last time the Bruins won five straight came in 2013 — coincidentally, the last time they reached the Stanley Cup Final.
Boston has led for 155:54 and trailed for 13:08 during their streak
“Sometimes we get in a little bit of a passive mode, but we play a layered system where we try to make sure we’re in front of them towards the net, so they have to go through multiple bodies to get there and try to limit turnovers as well,” Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk told NHL.com. “Just try to play a simple game. It’s not necessarily the most fun game to watch, but it’s winning hockey this time of year.”
The Bruins weather a second-period storm where they were outshot 15-10 in Game 1 and when they grabbed the lead in the third, they made sure Carolina’s possession game couldn’t do just that.
The Hurricanes don’t give up many goals — some of the least in the postseason and the regular season. So the Bruins can take confidence in the fact they tucked five past them in Game 1.
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Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck