BOSTON — Some third-period fireworks gave the Boston Bruins an early advantage in their first Eastern Conference Final since 2013.
Down 2-1 entering the final frame, the Bruins scored four goals, the first two just 28 seconds apart, to earn a 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday at TD Garden in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
Steven Kampfer, Marcus Johansson, Patrice Bergeron, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner had the Bruins’ goals. Sebastian Aho and Greg McKegg had Carolina’s tallies.
Tuukka Rask made 29 saves for the Bruins, while Petr Mrazek turned away 23 shots for Carolina.
Here’s how it all went down:
Both teams found a goal in the first few minutes of the opening period, which ended in a 1-1 tie.
The Bruins goal came from an unlikely, albeit poetic source. The Hurricanes won a face-off in their own zone and got the puck up to the point, but Johansson poked it into the neutral zone and started the rush on his own. Shortly after gaining the offensive blue line, Johansson came to a stop and slipped a nice backhand pass to Kampfer, who was dashing through the center. The defenseman — who was in only because of Charlie McAvoy’s suspension — held the puck for a moment, then sniped a wrister from the high slot past Mrazek at 2:55.
Boston’s lead was short-lived though, with Carolina drawing level less than a minute later.
Sean Kuraly was whistled for roughing, and mere seconds into the power play, noted Bruins-killer Aho scored. Jordan Staal won an offensive zone face-off, getting the puck diagonally out to Andrei Svechnikov. After gathering the puck, Svechnikov threw the puck to the far post, and Aho was there for the quick redirect at 3:42.
Each team got an opportunity on the power play later in the period, but couldn’t cash in. The Hurricanes won the shots battle 10-8.
CANES TAKE CONTROL
The Hurricanes accounted for the only goal of the middle period, sending them into the third ahead 2-1.
Shortly before the midway point, McKegg entered the attacking zone with speed and eluded David Krejci. Kampfer was the trailer but couldn’t catch up before McKegg got a shot off, which beat Rask. Right after the puck crossed the line though, McKegg barreled into Rask, knocking the net off its moorings.
The goal counted though, putting Carolina ahead 2-1 at 9:18.
The Bruins were outshot 15-10 in the period.
B’S EXECUTE COMEBACK
A surge early in the final frame gave Boston the win.
Less than a minute into the period, Staal was whistled for boarding Wagner. It took a while for the Bruins’ power play to get going, but late in the man advantage, Krejci had the puck at the point and faked a shot, instead passing it diagonally to Brad Marchand in the circle. The winger fired a one-timer that was stopped by Mrazek, but the goalie left a juicy rebound at the top of the crease. After a brief scramble, Johansson got his stick on the puck and lifted it past Mrazek at 2:26 to tie things at two.
Less than 30 seconds later, the Bruins took the lead — and again, it was on the power play, with Dougie Hamilton getting penalized for elbowing Joakim Nordstrom at 2:41.
Jake DeBrusk had the puck near the corner and got off an impressive pass that slid across the zone to Marchand. Instead of uncorking a one-time shot, the winger redirected the puck to Bergeron in the slot, and the center finished past Mrazek at 2:54 to put the B’s up one.
Carolina pulled Mrazek late in the third in search of an equalizer, but with 2:13 left, Coyle scored the empty-netter to put the game on ice.
Seconds later, Wagner got a breakaway and burned Mrazek to further the B’s lead with 2:02 to go.
The B’s and Hurricanes will meet again in Boston for Game 2 on Sunday. Puck drop from TD Garden is set for 3 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images