The Boston Bruins will return to the Eastern Conference Semifinals after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in five games.
It was a hard-fought series, but for the second consecutive postseason, the Bruins toppled the Hurricanes in decisive fashion.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad put the final nail in the coffin Wednesday afternoon, as a pair of second-period power play goals by Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci was enough to lift the Bruins past the Hurricanes, 2-1.
The Bruins, who outshot Carolina 27-24 in game five, stole the game back from the Hurricanes after Haydn Fleury got the best of Jaroslav Halak in the opening frame. And the catalyst was the power play.
Krejci got the Bruins on the board when he crashed the net and put home a rebound.
Five minutes later, Bergeron potted a goal of his own when he ricocheted a shot off Petr Mrazek from behind the net with just three seconds left in the middle stanza.
“I said ‘why not try it?'” Bergeron said of his thought process during his postgame media availability.
The Bruins weathered the desperate Hurricanes in the third to seal their third straight appearance in the Eastern semis.
“I would like to express how good the Carolina Hurricanes are. They are such a good hockey club. It was not easy to beat them,” Zdeno Chara said following the win.
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins await word on whether they’ll face the Lightning or Flyers in the next round.
Krejci does a little bit of everything
Often the unsung hero playing behind Bergeron, Krejci was a force against the Hurricanes. The 34-year-old veteran centerman brought life to the second line after recording a point in all five games of the series.
Wednesday was no different. Krejci made an impact at both ends of the ice doing the little things that often get unnoticed. Clean breakouts, backchecking, and, most importantly, keeping Carolina off the scoreboard.
Case in point: the opening period with the Bruins trailing 1-0. The Czech centerman exemplified his win at all cost mentality when he blocked a high-quality scoring chance by Jordan Staal to keep the deficit at one.
Krejci, also known as playoff Krejci, was Boston’s best forward against Carolina. The combination of his passing prowess, along with Jake DeBrusk’s speed and Ondrej Kase’s creativity, made Boston’s second line a formidable threat.
“We all love Playoff Krech,” David Pastrnak said of his fellow countryman.
Power play shined most when they needed it
The Bruins entered their first-round series with Carolina carrying a woeful 0-for-13 line on the power play from the round-robin.
Things changed quickly once the top unit had a few meaningful games under its belt; they started to figure it out. On Wednesday, the Bruins clinched the series thanks in large part to their potent power play.
With Pastrnak back in the lineup, Cassidy tried something new. He kept Krejci, who usually plays on the second unit, on the first unit instead of Charlie Coyle. This provided a new dynamic having Krejci and Pastrnak at the wing — with their lethal slapshots — while giving license to Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Torey Krug to use their creativity at the point and the bumper positions.
Boston’s power play looked like it was in regular-season form when it was one of the most feared units in the National Hockey League. They’ll need that to continue in their quest to hoist the Cup for the first time in nine years.
One Step Closer to Redemption
Ever since they skated off the TD Garden ice following their bitter loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins have been working toward avenging that loss.
Now they’re one step closer. They took down a young and hungry team in five games following criticism from their 0-3 showing in round-robin play.
We learned more about this team in a short amount of time. First off, they’re among the NHL elite. That hasn’t changed.
Secondly, they handle adversity well. The Bruins easily could’ve rolled over after David Pastrnak’s missed time due to injury and Tuukka Rask‘s departure from the Toronto bubble. Instead, the team rallied and rattled off three straight wins to advance one step closer to the ultimate goal.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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