Hurricanes vs. Bruins: 3 things to know about First Round series

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs began on Monday, May 2. Today, we preview the series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins. 

Hurricanes vs. Bruins schedule

Game 1: May 2, 7 p.m. ET – Bruins at Hurricanes (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 2: May 4, 7 p.m. ET – Bruins at Hurricanes (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 3: May 6, 7 p.m. ET – Hurricanes at Bruins (TNT, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4: May 8, 12:30 p.m. ET – Hurricanes at Bruins (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports)
*Game 5: May 10, TBD – Bruins at Hurricanes (TBD)
*Game 6: May 12, TBD – Hurricanes at Bruins (TBD)
*Game 7: May 14, TBD – Bruins at Hurricanes (TBD)

1. Goaltending questions for both teams

It is not that either team has bad goalies, there are just some questions here.

For Carolina it is a matter of health. Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta combined to win the Jennings Trophy this season for allowing the fewest goals in the NHL and were everything the Hurricanes could have hoped for and move as a goalie duo this season. But they have both had some injury issues late in the season, while Andersen (the superior goalie this season) will not be ready for the start of the series and will not be the team’s Game 1 starter. His return is still to be determined.

In Boston, Tuukka’ Rask’s retirement means Bruins fans will have to find a new scapegoat this season if the team does not win.

The duo of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark split the playing time 50-50 this season (minus four starts by Rask in the middle of the season) and gave the Bruins better than league average play at the position. But both are completely untested in the playoffs and it remains to be seen if they will be capable of backstopping the Bruins on a deep playoff run, or getting them through a tough matchup against a high powered Hurricanes offense.

2. Two elite defensive teams

While both teams have top-tier forwards (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall for Boston; Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen for Carolina) and the aforementioned goalie questions, goals might still be difficult to come by in this series because these are two of the absolute best defensive teams in the NHL.

The Hurricanes allowed the fewest goals in the NHL while the Bruins were fourth best, and they finished first and second in the league in terms of allowing the fewest shot attempts per 60 minutes during 5-on-5 play.

The Bruins were especially dominant defensively this season, ranking among the top-five teams in goals against, shot attempts against, scoring chances against, and expected goals against. Given the continued excellence of Bergeron and Marchand, a strong coaching staff, and a defense led by one of the league’s best up-and-coming defenseman in Charlie McAvoy and it is not hard to see why they are so dominant defensively.

Both teams were also in the top-10 in the league on the penalty kill (Carolina was first; Boston ninth).

3. Hurricanes absolutely dominated regular season meetings

How much will that matter?

The Hurricanes and Bruins played three times during the regular season, and not only did the Hurricanes win all three games, they won them decisively by scores of 3-0, 7-1, and 6-0. That is an aggregate score of 16-1 in the three games, including 10-0 during 5-on-5 play.

The big difference in a couple of those games was goaltending. The 7-1 loss was one of Rask’s four starts (that did not go well), while Ullmark had a dreadful start in the last meeting between the two teams. In terms of 5-on-5 possession numbers the two teams were fairly even in the three games in terms of scoring chances and expected goals, but goaltending swung things in a significant way.

It is also worth pointing out that it has been nearly three months since the two teams played, with the third meeting happening back in early February. A lot has changed since then, especially for Boston which has gone 24-10-2 in the 36 games since then, while having also added another top-pairing defender in Hampus Lindholm.

Prediction: Hurricanes in seven games

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    Thompson nets 4 in 1st, 5 overall, as Buffalo tops Columbus

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    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tage Thompson matched an NHL record by scoring four times in the first period and finished with five goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight road game, 9-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

    Thompson is the second U.S.-born player to score five goals in a game. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record four goals in the first period of a regular-season game, joining Peter Bondra (1994), Grant Mulvey (1982) and Joe Malone (1921). He is also the fourth active player to score five goals in a game, joining Timo Meier (Jan. 17, 2022), Mika Zibanejad (March 5, 2020) and Patrik Laine (Nov. 24, 2018).

    “It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You’ve spent a lot of years working to get to this point and to be rewarded for it is a pretty good feeling and it just leaves you hungrier.”

    Thompson’s outburst helped Buffalo score six times in the first 16:40.

    “That was an amazing performance by Tage, and really, the whole group set the table,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought the energy, the collective effort, the focus to start was really good and enabled that to happen.”

    Alex Tuch had a goal and three assists, Dylan Cozens added a power-play goal and two assists and Rasmus Dahlin finished with a goal and two assists. Peyton Krebs also scored. Jeff Skinner picked up four assists and Jacob Bryson had two. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 20 shots.

    Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist each scored twice for Columbus.

    Joonas Korpisalo stopped two shots before being pulled in the first in favor of Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 15 shots through the second period. Korpisalo returned in the third and finished with six saves.

    Columbus has lost six straight home games and five of its last six overall.

    “We didn’t have an answer for that one line,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Tage Thompson just tore us up tonight.”

    Buffalo dominated from the puck drop, scoring four goals on its first six shots.

    Cozens put the Sabres on the board at 3:21 of the first, 53 seconds into a Blue Jackets penalty, and Thompson made it 2-0 just 2:09 later. Dahlin scored Buffalo’s third goal at 7:28 of the first, driving Korpisalo from the net in favor of Merzlikins, who gave up Buffalo goal No. 4 to Thompson 32 seconds later.

    Thompson’s third career hat trick and second of the season came on a power-play goal at 12:22 of the first. He followed with his fourth goal, also on the power play, at 16:40.

    Columbus scored two goals in just over a minute, with Laine at 10:49 and Nyquist at 12:04, before Buffalo reeled off three straight in just over three minutes to end the period, including Thompson’s fifth, and goals by Krebs and Tuch.

    Laine and Nyquist scored in the third period for Columbus.

    STREAKING

    Cozens has 12 points in his last five games and is riding a career-best, five-game point streak. Thompson has eight goals and five assists in his last five games and 10 multi-point games. Dahlin has a five-game point and assist streak, and Gaudreau stretched his points streak to six games.

    NOTES: The Sabres joined the Kraken as the second team this season to score nine goals in a game. … Thompson is the second player in Buffalo history to have five goals in a game, joining Dave Andreychuk, who had five goals and an assist on Feb. 6, 1986.

    UP NEXT

    Buffalo: Hosts Pittsburgh on Friday.

    Columbus: Hosts Calgary on Friday.

    Ovechkin, Strome lead Capitals past struggling Flyers 4-1

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    PHILADELPHIA — Alex Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals, Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night.

    T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals, who finished 3-3 on a six-game trip. Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

    Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia, which has lost 13 of 15 games. Carter Hart made 23 stops.

    Strome broke a 1-all tie with 10:41 remaining when he deflected John Carlson‘s shot from long range past Hart.

    Hayes had a golden opportunity to tie it on a Philadelphia power play, but Lindgren made a great right pad save on a try from close range with 8:20 remaining.

    Ovechkin iced it, scoring into an empty net with 1:35 left and adding another empty-netter with 8.2 seconds left for his 15th of the season. Ovechkin has 795 career goals, good for third all-time. He is six goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky, with 894 goals, tops the list.

    Hayes scored his ninth goal of the season for his team-leading 28th point with 4:14 left in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Hayes rushed to the bench after breaking his stick on a slap shot attempt, and scored on a wrist shot from the high slot with his new stick.

    The Flyers had a power-play goal for the third straight game and have four overall in that stretch. Philadelphia, which began play ranked 30th in the NHL in scoring on the man advantage, now has converted 16.7% (14 of 84) of its chances.

    Oshie tied it 3:51 into the second on the Capitals’ fourth power play as the Flyers continued to take sloppy penalties. This time, James van Riemsdyk committed Philadelphia’s third tripping minor of the game. Oshie made them pay with his fifth goal of the season when he finished a nifty passing sequence with Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov with a perfectly placed one-timer over Hart’s left shoulder.

    NOTES: Van Riemsdyk returned after missing the last 20 games due to a broken right index finger. . Flyers forward Tanner Laczynski was placed on injured reserve after departing midway through the third period of Monday’s 5-3 win over Colorado with what looked like an injury to his left leg. . Washington was without several injured players, including starting goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body). Kuemper was with the team, but missed his second in a row. . Carlson had two assists. . Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, out all season with an upper body injury, has been practicing and is close to returning.

    UP NEXT

    Capitals: Host Seattle on Friday night.

    Flyers: Open four-game trip at Vegas on Friday night.

    Penguins prospect Sam Poulin taking leave of absence

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    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins forward prospect Sam Poulin is taking a leave of absence from the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

    Penguins general manager Ron Hextall announced on Wednesday that the 21-year-old Poulin, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2019 draft, is stepping away due to “personal reasons.”

    “The Penguins support Sam’s decision to take time away from hockey to focus on himself,” Hextall said in a release. “As with all of our players, our priority is them as individuals first. We look forward to having him back with the team when he is ready.”

    Hextall said Poulin will return home to Quebec and continue to work out on his own.

    Poulin made his NHL debut in October and had one assist in three games before heading back to the AHL. Poulin had four goals in 13 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the time of his decision.

    Nathan MacKinnon sidelined about a month with upper-body injury

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    DENVER — The injury-riddled Colorado Avalanche will be without leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon for about a month after he suffered an upper-body injury in a loss to Philadelphia.

    The team announced the news on social media.

    MacKinnon has eight goals and 26 assists for a team-best 34 points this season for the defending Stanley Cup champions. He joins a long list of banged-up players, including Valeri Nichushkin, Evan Rodrigues, Bowen Byram, Kurtis MacDermid, Josh Manson, Darren Helm and captain Gabriel Landeskog. Forward Artturi Lehkonen also missed the game in Philadelphia.

    The 27-year-old MacKinnon signed an eight-year extension in August. He was coming off a postseason in which he tied for the league lead with 13 goals, helping the Avalanche raise their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.