The Boston Bruins entered Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes expecting to be without their top two defenseman.
Instead, star defenseman Charlie McAvoy made a surprise appearance, clearing COVID-19 protocols in time to join his teammates in Carolina. McAvoy’s return didn’t completely galvanize the Bruins, though, as Boston fell to the Hurricanes, 5-1, on Tuesday night at PNC Arena.
“We were planning on playing without him,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “It was a nice surprise he got taken out of the protocol to get him in the lineup. You could see that missing some time, he wasn’t 100 percent, but he gave it what he had and should be better in Game 6.”
Cassidy said he didn’t find out McAvoy would be available to play until just hours before the game around “lunch time.” McAvoy ended up taking a private plane down to Carolina to be able to play.
Despite just getting cleared and not playing in Game 4, McAvoy still assumed his usual large role in Game 5. McAvoy was by far the leader in time on ice for the Bruins as he played a team-high 25:14. No other defensemen for Boston played more than 20 minutes.
When on the ice, McAvoy recorded two shots along with three blocks and four hits. For McAvoy, he just tried to stick to his game after what had to have been a whirlwind day for the 24-year-old defenseman.
“I tried to show up and put my best foot forward,” McAvoy said as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “Just tried to give it everything I had today.”
Here are more notes from Bruins-Hurricanes:
— Once again, the Bruins couldn’t solve Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta. Raanta came through with 34 saves to stymie Boston’s offense, which had scored nine goals in its two previous games on home ice.
— Jeremy Swayman got his third straight start in net for the Bruins. Swayman, who made 33 stops on 37 shot attempts, allowed a shot from Jaccob Slavin to trickle past him to open the scoring just 6:11 into the first period.
“Not as clean as he has been,” Cassidy said of Swayman’s performance. “I thought he had some tough puck luck. I think the second goal goes in off Charlie. It’s a tough screen. The first one, like I’ve said, we talk about timely saves, they got a few early on. We need that one. … He gave us a chance after that. There was a stretch there we weren’t very good in front of him. … I’m certainly not putting this on Jeremy.”
— Slow starts continue to hinder the Bruins. The Hurricanes have scored first in all five games in the series and the Bruins have yet to hold a lead on the road in the playoffs.
— The power play dried up again for the Bruins. Boston only had three opportunities on the man-advantage and came up empty each time. It was the polar opposite for the Hurricanes, who netted two power-play goals in five chances.
“We just got to do a better job on the penalty kill,” Cassidy said. “We’ve been very good in specials teams up until tonight. They were the better team in it.”
— The Bruins look to keep their season alive with a win in Game 6, which takes place at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday at TD Garden. You can watch full coverage on NESN, including an hour of pregame.