Bruins top Hurricanes to take commanding 3-0 series lead

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In the end the goaltending change really didn’t matter much for the Carolina Hurricanes, mostly because the goalie at the end of the ice — Boston’s Tuukka Rask — continued his brilliant postseason performance to help lift the Bruins to a 2-1 Game 3 win.

You might even go as far as to say that Rask stole this one.

The Bruins now have a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final and will have a chance to end it on Thursday night to clinch first Stanley Cup Final appearance since the 2012-13 season.

It had to be a bad omen for the Hurricanes on Tuesday when they dominated the first period and had absolutely nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

Teuvo Teravainen missed a wide open net in the game’s first minute, the power play continued to struggle and failed to capitalize on an extended 5-on-3 advantage, and when they did create a great scoring chance and get the puck on net Rask was nearly unbeatable in the Boston crease.

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After mostly sleepwalking through the first period, the Bruins were able to strike for the game’s first goal just 1:21 into the second period when Chris Wagner scored his second goal of the playoffs.

Just five minutes later Brad Marchand scored on the power play to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead when he got a bit of a fortunate bounce in front of the net to beat Curtis McElhinney for his sixth goal of the playoffs.

McElhinney played good enough to win for the Hurricanes after getting the start over Petr Mrazek, but he had zero margin for error.

That is because the star of the game was Rask.

While he was a little lucky to have Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov both miss the net completely on wide open looks, he was the best player on the ice and kept the Bruins in the game in the first period when they were outshot by a 20-6 margin. They were not all easy saves, either. He was challenged early and often and never flinched, continuing what has been one of the best postseason performances of his career.

The only slip-up he had was late in the second period when a Calvin de Haan shot snuck through his pads to get the Hurricanes on the board. They were never able to beat him again after that, or really even come close.

After sweeping the New York Islanders in Round 2 (after the Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1) the Hurricanes are now facing the possibility of being swept themselves.

This was Carolina’s first loss on home ice this postseason and Boston’s sixth win in a row overall.

Game 4 of Bruins-Hurricanes is Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.