BOSTON — The opportunity was there for the taking, and the Bruins made the most of it. Well, kind of.
The Bruins entered Thursday night needing just one point to overtake the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division. They secured the point but nothing more, as Phillip Di Giuseppe beat Tuukka Rask on breakaway in overtime to lift the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 win at TD Garden.
The Hurricanes struck first in the back-and-forth affair with an Elias Lindholm power-play goal in the first period. The teams traded goals in the second, as Loui Eriksson netted a power-play goal on a great feed from Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Gerbe responded with a rebound goal at even strength.
But David Pastrnak’s snipe six minutes into the third tied things up and held until the extra period, when Di Giuseppe took advantage of a rebound attempt to down the B’s.
Rask notched 28 saves on 25 Carolina shots, while Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward stopped 30 of Boston’s 32 attempts.
The Hurricanes took advantage of an early Bruins penalty to get on the board first.
Bergeron was sent to the box for high sticking just over three minutes into the action, and with three seconds remaining on Carolina’s power play, Lindholm ripped an open wrist shot past Rask to put his his team in front.
Rask seemed to lose sight of the puck, as it trickled between his legs after he made the initial save. The B’s had killed 15 of their previous 17 power plays before Lindholm’s goal.
Boston had its opportunities, outshooting the Hurricanes 8-2 over the remaining 15 minutes of the period and getting quality chances from David Krejci and Ryan Spooner. But they couldn’t solve Ward and entered the first intermission trailing 1-0.
Both sides lit the lamp in the second period as the intensity picked up a bit after a somewhat sluggish start.
The Canes took two penalties in the first five minutes of the frame, and Bergeron made them pay on the second one. He whipped a beautiful cross-ice pass to Eriksson, who slammed it home for his 25th goal of the season.
But Carolina didn’t take long to respond. After Spooner failed to convert on a breakaway, the Canes stormed back on the counter-attack, as Chris Terry weaved around a diving Joe Morrow to put a shot on net.
Rask made the initial save, but Gerbe was there to clean up the rebound and put Carolina back up 2-1.
The Bruins cranked up the pressure at the end of the period but couldn’t cash in. They entered the third still trailing by a goal despite outshooting Carolina 16-10 in the frame.
“NAK” AND NECK
Pastrnak pulled the Bruins even again with an excellent individual play, freezing Ward and defenseman Brett Pesce before beating the Canes goalie with a wicked wrist shot.
The Canes responded with a string of excellent chances after Pastrnak’s goal, but Rask denied them all, tallying 10 saves in the third to send the Bruins to their fourth consecutive overtime game.
Defenseman Kevan Miller was on the ice for the team’s morning skate but sat out Thursday night with an upper body injury. Mille has been sidelined since last Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals but could return this Saturday against the New York Islanders. Defenseman Zach Trotman was a healthy scratch for the 10th time in 11 games, as was winger Tyler Randell.
The Bruins will square off Saturday against the Islanders in a home matinee matchup scheduled for 1 p.m. ET. Then they’ll hit the road for a crucial West Coast swing that includes games against the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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