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Recap and Ranker: Shell-shocked Canes blow three-goal lead in 6-4 loss to Bruins

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Jamie Kellner

The Carolina Hurricanes have lost blowouts this season. They’ve lost on a goal in the final second of regulation. They’ve lost back-and-forth games. And yet, they found a way to lose a game in a new, excruciating way on Tuesday night.

Leading by three goals with ten minutes to go, the Hurricanes collapsed in a manner befitting the other tenant of PNC Arena. Despite being down to 15 skaters for the final ten minutes, the Boston Bruins overcame a three-goal third period deficit to beat the Canes 6-4, a defensive calamity that might just have been the final nail in the coffin of Carolina’s playoff hopes.

The Canes showed signs of promise early, although with no results. The line of Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho had multiple good looks on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, but couldn’t beat the Finnish netminder.

Almost as if by design, at the same time the TSA line couldn’t score, this happened:

And, as expected, the Canes’ inability to light the lamp cost them the opening goal. Brad Marchand tapped in a behind-the-back pass from David Pastrnak with eleven seconds remaining in the period to take a 1-0 lead to the locker room.

But then the second period started, and the Canes took flight.

It started early, just 2:10 into the middle frame, when Aho wired a wrister from Teravainen through a Staal screen on a power play that Rask never saw. Aho’s 25th of the season makes him the first Canes player not named Jeff Skinner to attain that mark since Eric Staal scored 33 in the 2010-11 season.

After a Zdeno Chara delay of game penalty midway through the period, Marchand joined him in the box after he tripped Aho while on the penalty kill. The Bruins pest then took a run at Aho, prompting a response from both Staal and Justin Faulk, and the Canes cashed in on the two-man advantage thanks to Aho returning the favor to Teravainen. The Canes’ leading scorer cashed in with his 21st from nearly the same spot on the ice where his countryman had scored ten minutes earlier.

To wrap up the period, Justin Williams drove hard to the net and was rewarded as a Brock McGinn shot trickled through Rask’s pads and sat tantalizingly a foot from the goal line. Williams just beat Chara to the puck and poked it in to give the Canes a two-goal lead.

The momentum continued into the third, with the Canes killing a Brett Pesce tripping penalty that extended through the intermission. Pastrnak, trying to keep the puck in the zone, whiffed while stickhandling, allowing Elias Lindholm to take off on a breakaway. Lindholm’s shot was stopped by Rask, but McGinn followed up to make it a 4-1 lead less than a minute in.

And then things all fell apart in dramatic fashion.

Just past the halfway point of the third period, Matt Grzelcyk took advantage of Tim Schaller forcing a turnover and wristed a high shot past a surprised Cam Ward to make it a two-goal game. Less than a minute later, the lead was reduced to one as Pastrnak converted a two-on-one with Marchand.

Then, the Bruins tied it 21 seconds later in controversial fashion. David Krejci attempted to glove the puck to himself while exiting the defensive zone, but closed his hand on the puck in the process undetected by the officials. Krejci took off on another odd-man advantage and Danton Heinen finished the job to tie the game, despite the Bruins being down three players in the final 15 minutes of the game with Chara, Jake DeBrusk and Torey Krug all apparently injured.

With 4:08 remaining, Justin Faulk set the table to finish the collapse, clearing the puck over the glass and into the crowd to put the Bruins on the power play. Pastrnak, predictably, finished the job Faulk started, wiring a one-timer from the far circle to give the Bruins the lead again. He finished off his first career hat trick into the empty net with 1:30 left, leaving a good number of thousand-yard stares on the Canes’ bench and no shortage of delirious Bruins fans in the PNC crowd.

The loss keeps the Canes at a seven-point deficit to the final playoff spot, and five days to marinate over it before they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.


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