The Bruins needed a Game 2 win to even their first round series with the Maple Leafs. They wound up with a split in Round 2 following their Game 2 double-overtime loss to the Blue Jackets — their last TD Garden setback this postseason.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad aren’t traveling to Raleigh with a split this time around. The Black and Gold’s dominant Game 2 win over the Hurricanes put them to the halfway mark of playing for Lord Stanley in a couple weeks time.
And yes, the Bruins aren’t satisfied with just having a 2-0 series lead for the first time this postseason. But they’re feeling good about themselves. Nineteen different players lit the lamp through the first three rounds, tying a franchise playoff record with the 1987-88 squad that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
That’s how some of the pundits scripted their Conference Finals matchup with the Hurricanes. The Bruins are proving them right so far.
“We did what we wanted to do and that’s get two wins. It was in a matter that we liked as well,” forward Jake DeBrusk said. “Obviously they’re going to have their crowd behind them in Game 3, but looking at it right now it’s going as planned.”
“I think, just all in all, we’ve got to rediscover who we are. You know, you spend all this time off leading up, and everyone writing articles about how great we are, and you come out and sometimes you’ve got to eat a poop sandwich,” Carolina captain Justin Williams opined after Game 2. “It doesn’t taste good. You have to chew on it for a little bit, and we’ll have to do it for a couple days and get the taste out of our mouths next game.”
Willaims wouldn’t be talking about a visually unflattering snack had the Hurricanes capitalized on a golden chance in Game 1 with Charlie McAvoy serving a one-game suspension. They were the better team through two periods of the series opener as their speed and skill gave Boston’s defensive core fits en route to a 2-1 lead.
The Bruins came out a different team in the third, scoring four straight — highlighted by Marcus Johansson’s and Patrice Bergeron’s power play tallies 28 seconds apart. They carried that momentum over into Game 2 with a returning McAvoy and an opportunistic attack, adding six more goals before Williams and Teuvo Teravainen finally got the ‘Canes on the board to stop the de facto 10-0 scoring run.
The Hurricanes took the bait the first two games. Brad Marchand goaded Williams into a retaliatory penalty in Game 2. Dougie Hamilton’s two minor penalties — only one legit albeit — set his ugly return to TD Garden to the delight of “Dougie” taunts from the 17,565 in attendance.
This has some Bruins fans thinking sweep. Buyer beware: it won’t come that easy.
For one, the Hurricanes will likely put forth a better effort in front of their rabid fanbase at PNC Arena, a place where they’re a perfect 5-0 in the postseason. And an 0-2 series deficit isn’t anything new for the “bunch of jerks.” They faced the same scenario in Round 1 against the Capitals following an ugly Game 2 loss in the Nation’s Capital. The Canes won four of the next five — three coming at home — to dethrone the defending champs.
The Bruins possess a deeper roster compared to the Alex Ovechkin-led Caps. But the Hurricanes’ resiliency rightfully put them in the spot as one of the four teams left. Say what you want about Carolina’s fanbase, but they’ve embraced their “bunch of jerks” during this run. Williams and company hope to give them something to cheer for in return.
“If they are going to advance, we’re certainly going to make it as tough as we can on them, and it won’t be easy,” Williams said. “So we’ll chew on it, and Game 3 is ours, hopefully.”
Well, the Hurricanes need some answers heading into Game 3, primarily with their goaltending. Petr Mrazek allowed 10 goals in the last 80 minutes and Curtis McElhinney, who backstopped the team to three straight wins in their Round 2 sweep of the Islanders, waits in the wings.
The Bruins, who are 4-2 away from Causeway Street in the 2019 playoffs, will also adjust accordingly with Noel Acciari (undisclosed injury) potentially returning for Game 3.
McAvoy and company displayed a good physical blueprint against the Hurricanes on Causeway Street. And they come to North Carolina’s capital city with a specific goal in mind.
“We have a lot of respect for them. You don’t get here by accident so we know that they are going to be better next game. There are certain aspects where we can do better as well so we got to learn from this, enjoy it, and once we leave, get ready for Game 3,” McAvoy said.
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