RALEIGH, N.C. — A desperate Boston Bruins bunch will return home with more questions than answers.
The Bruins came out with a pep in their step in Game 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Their power play generated a few looks on their first attempt for a potential building block. Antti Raanta’s exit following a David Pastrnak collision prompted rookie netminder Pytor Kochetkov into his first career playoff appearance.
Yet, the undisciplined Bruins didn’t test Kochetkov until they entered desperation mode. And they began a night of self-destruction midway through the first period.
The B’s encountered significant struggles clearing the puck out of their defensive end in the first. The Hurricanes pounced on turnovers and tips, with Jesper Fast and Sebastian Aho scoring 2:27 apart for a 2-0 lead.
Then the penalties piled up. For most of the middle stanza, the tight confines of the visiting penalty box resembled a clown car circus act. For every moment of pushback, like responding to Andrei Svechnikov’s hit on Hampus Lindholm, the Bruins self-inflicted further with undisciplined moments like Trent Frederic committing an interference minor or Brad Marchand engaging in a battle of slashes with Kochetkov.
Even with a pair of power-play goals from Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins couldn’t stop unraveling. The Canes netted man-advantage tallies in the second on Aho’s second of the night and Neidereitter’s 5-on-3 marker with 1:07 left in the middle stanza. Niederreiter sealed Carolina’s 5-2 win on an empty-netter with under a minute remaining.
The Bruins, who faced three 5-on-3 situations, didn’t get much help from the inconsistent officiating. Regardless, they did themselves in. They now face a 2-0 series deficit for the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. And the likes of Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Tim Thomas and Milan Lucic aren’t walking through that door.
Here’s what we learned following another frustrating Bruins’ loss at PNC Arena.
Lindholm isn’t “doing well” following Svechnikov’s hit
At the very least, the Bruins needed to exit Raleigh with nothing more than nicks and bruises. But they found themselves shorthanded after Svechnikov delivered a borderline hit behind the Boston net on Lindholm late in the second period.
“He isn’t doing well,” Cassidy said in his initial postgame comments.
“It looked high to me, and that’s why he left the game. He has an upper-body injury,” Cassidy said of the hit. “It was on time certainly. It looked high, but they didn’t see it that way. Sometimes they see it that way, and sometimes they don’t. I don’t know if [player safety] will [review it], so we’ll have to see on that.”
The Bruins came to Lindholm’s aid yet found themselves shorthanded after the refs assessed Carlo a double-minor for roughing during the post-whistle scrum. The Canes later converted on their second 5-on-3 advantage to extend their lead to 4-1 just 3:55 after Bergeron’s first of two power-play markers.
The Bruins responded to the Svechnikov hit with a timely pushback. Yet, they committed some head-scratching penalties during other tense moments.
Undisciplined responses prevented the Bruins from establishing momentum
The refs assessed Pastrnak a major penalty before downgrading it to a two-minute minor. But other ill-timed minor penalties became a major concern for Cassidy’s club.
Marchand and Trent Frederic’s ill-advised penalties highlighted that sore spot. The latter put his team in a bigger hole after taking a run at Teuvo Teravianen shortly after Carolina took a 3-0 lead on Aho’s second-period power-play marker.
The Bruins killed off Frederic’s penalty. They appeared prime to make another timely kill until Marchand retaliated against Kochetkov in a battle of slashes.
A Derek Forbort holding penalty on Aho’s near breakaway attempt 15 seconds later put the Bruins in another 5-on-3 situation. Carolina didn’t take long to convert, with Neidereitter notching his first of two markers.
“The tempo flared up,” Bergeron said. “We have to do a better job being composed and disciplined. Obviously, you can’t give them that many 5-on-3’s or they’re going to make you pay. I think you want to play between the whistles and play physical and hard. But as I said, you have to make sure it’s the right way. Obviously, they scored some goals on the power play, and it hurt us.”
The Bruins will encounter rising tensions with each game. And now they’ll return home a desperate bunch.
Desperation could lead to lineup changes
The Bruins found some rhythm in the third against Carolina’s third-string netminder. They tested Kochetov in the final 20, firing 17 shots on net and getting one past him.
Before that, Cassidy desperately looked for a spark. He benched Frederic following his ill-timed interference infraction, thus putting his lines in a proverbial blender.
Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak reunited for a handful of shifts Wednesday night. Taylor Hall moved around the middle of the lineup, skating with Erik Haula and Jake DeBrusk on the second line and Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith on the third trio.
“Just to get a spark,” Cassidy said on reuniting the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line. “Not much was happening. They’ve been together, and sometimes they’ll give you a lift. It’s something that we may have to do going forward.”
Perhaps Cassidy will go down that route in a pivotal Game 3. Maybe they need a top-heavy lineup to get them back on track.
But the Bruins coaching staff may have other changes in mind. Perhaps they’ll make a switch in net, tabbing Jeremy Swayman for the Game 3 start even though Ullmark didn’t receive much support in the first two games. And they’ll likely look to Mike Reilly to slot in on the blue line if Lindholm can’t suit up Friday night.
Carolina had had Boston’s number through five meetings — including their three-regular season matchups — outscoring them 25-4. With adversity starring them directly in the face, the Bruins need to find a spark in front of their disgruntled, but passionate fanbase.
“It’s playoff hockey. You’re going to have some adversity,” Bergeron said. “For us, it’s early. So, you know, back to Game 3.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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