- Tuukka Rask is the difference in the Eastern Conference Final.
- The Carolina Hurricanes’ special teams is also a factor … a negative one for them.
- David Krejci reaches a personal postseason milestone for the Bruins.
There are two very big factors for the Boston Bruins’ commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final.
The obvious one is the play of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask because he has been, in a word, dominant, and he was at his best in the Bruins’ 2-1 Game 3 win on Tuesday night.
The other factor is the fact that Boston’s special teams has completely taken over the series. Carolina had struggled on both the power play and penalty kill in the first two rounds and entered the series near the bottom of the league in both categories in the playoffs. Things have not gotten much better against the Bruins.
After Tuesday’s 0-for-5 night on the power play (including a first period two-man advantage where they did not score), the Hurricanes are just 1-for-12 in the series and have already given up five power play goals to the Bruins on 12 attempts. That is not going to get the job done at this point in the playoffs. Or at any point, really.
1. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins. Simply the best player on the ice. He stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced and is now up to a .939 save percentage in the playoffs. He kept the Bruins in the game early in the first period when they were getting outshot by a 20-6 margin, holding off the Hurricanes’ initial surge just long enough for the Bruins to finally strike first early in the second period. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game this is some of the best hockey he has ever seen Rask play. You will not see goaltending much better than this from anyone.
2. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins. He struck again for the Bruins to record his sixth goal and 16th point of the playoffs. His power play goal in the second period goes in the books as the game-winner, which is now his second of the playoffs. Dislike him all you want, he is one of the absolute best players in the NHL and a constant force on the ice.
3. Chris Wagner, Boston Bruins. The Bruins’ fourth line started the scoring early in the second period when Wagner scored his second goal of the series. The unit was strong all night long for the Bruins and continued what has been a solid showing all postseason. The only downside of the night for Wagner and the Bruins is that he exited the game in the third period after blocking a shot and the immediate response from Cassidy after the game did not sound optimistic.
Highlights of the Night
Wagner’s goal came off of a pretty passing play by the Bruins’ fourth line. When you are getting play like this from your bottom line you are going to be in a pretty good position.
Marchand got a little bit of a lucky break on his goal in the second period, but sometimes you need that in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to get the win.
Here is a brief collection of some of Rask’s best saves on the night.
- The Bruins’ Game 3 win was their sixth in a row, tied for the third-longest postseason winning streak in franchise history. [NHL PR]
- David Krejci recorded his 100th career postseason point for the Bruins, tying him for third on the franchise’s all-time playoff scoring leaderboard. [NHL PR]
- Rask became the first goalie since Tim Thomas in 2011 to stop at least 20 shots in a postseason period. [NHL PR]
- This was the Bruins’ 60th win of the season, including regular season and playoffs, the eighth time in franchise history they have accomplished such a feat. [NHL PR]
- The Bruins are one win away from what would be their 20th appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. [NHL PR]
Game 3: San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Live Stream) (Series Tied 1-1)