BOSTON — Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes players seemed a tad wishy-washy when discussing Dougie Hamilton’s game-changing penalties in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.
However, the Hurricanes defenseman made his position perfectly clear after his team’s series-opening loss at TD Garden.
“I didn’t agree with either,” Hamilton said after the Hurricanes’ 5-2 loss to the Bruins. ” … Nothing you can do about it now.”
Carolina, which looked like the better team for much of Game 1, entered the third period with a 2-1 lead. But the Hurricanes committed three penalties over the first 5 1/2 minutes of the frame, and the Bruins capitalized on two of them. The first was a boarding penalty on Jordan Staal, leading to Marcus Johansson’s game-tying goal for Boston. If there was any indisputable penalty in the game, it was that one.
The next two each belonged to Hamilton, and both were questionable.
The roughing penalty against Joakim Nordstrom that led to Patrice Bergeron’s go-ahead goal? Iffy. The interference against David Backes that allowed Boston to sustain its momentum? Also debatable.
What’s not up for debate, though, is that the penalties changed the course of the game and gave the Bruins a spark they lacked for the first 40 minutes.
“Had the lead in the third, took some penalties, and gave them the lead,” Hamilton said. “Tough to come back from that.”
When asked whether his penalties were undisciplined or unfortunate, Hamilton added: “I don’t think they were penalties, so, neither.”
Despite being on the receiving end of Hamilton’s roughing penalty, which really was an elbow to the chin, Nordstrom didn’t seem upset with the former Bruin.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” Nordstrom said. ” I don’t think he meant to do it, it was more the timing of it.”
Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, who also wasn’t sold on the penalties, laid the blame on Carolina’s penalty kill.
“I’m as frustrated as everybody on some of the calls,” Brind’Amour said. “But again, I think we got to kill them. We take a penalty, we have to kill then and we didn’t do that.”
Brind’Amour, of course, is right. Questionable penalties happen, and it’s up to a team’s penalty kill to ensure they don’t change the game. Carolina’s special teams failed when Boston’s excelled — end of story.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images