On paper and where it counts, the Boston Bruins took down the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 last night. Everyone else outside of Boston knows this game was 2-2 when things were allowed to get out of hand. Unfortunately for the Canes, things happen and you have to have the ability to respond, and they were unable to do that amidst controversy last night leading to the Bruins taking a one game lead in this best of seven series.
The Good - The First 40
Going in to game one if you said the Canes would be leading by a goal after 40 minutes most fans would have happily taken that. The Canes put themselves in to that position thanks to two big goals by Sebastian Aho and Greg McKegg.
Aho’s power play goal is set up by winning a face off and Andrei Svechnikov just getting the puck on net. Aho was able to shake his defender and get to the front of the net for the redirection but that play doesn’t happen without the face off win by Jordan Staal.
Three seconds.— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) May 10, 2019
Power play goal. pic.twitter.com/HTq7WLQXpl
The McKegg goal is all about determination by Kegger. He got a step of the defender and drove the net where he was able to put it past Tuukka Rask before crashing in to him and the net. The play was reviewed but it was clear the puck went in before any contact was made and at that point the Hurricanes had all the momentum.
Greg McKegg got the job done! pic.twitter.com/YlyOvuYwzv— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) May 10, 2019
Two completely different goals put the Canes atop after two periods. Both goals are a microcosm of everything the Hurricane need to be successful in this series. A goal by their star player on the power play, and a goal from a bottom six guy who scores by pure determination. The Canes need that scoring balance in order to win any game and it was nearly enough last night.
The Bad - Not Quite Enough Dazzle
Before anyone jumps to conclusions, this point is not to say Petr Mrazek was bad last night, just that he wasn’t quite good enough. The sole reason the Hurricanes are even to this point in the playoffs is because they got above average goaltending for the majority of the year. After he missed two games and having been off since April 28th, Rod Brind’ Amour chose to go back to Mrazek in net despite Curtis McElhinney being perfect in net during Mrazek’s absence.
Whether or not that was even the right choice to begin with is up for debate, as it sends a weird message to yank the guy who’s been perfect for you. Yet that was the decision that was made. The Hurricanes needed the Mrazzle Dazzle effect to be in full force shut down mode and he wasn’t quite there last night.
Mrazek is a goalie that plays with a lot of emotions and a lot of the time that leads to a feast or famine situation. McElhinney on the other hand is a calming presence to the entire team when he is in net.
If you look at the Bruins third goal that ended up being the game winner, you can see where a more calming presence may have been better for the Canes. After just giving up the tying goal and having an extremely controversial penalty called against you, a calming voice would be great. Instead Mrazek was jumpy and he left his five hole wide open while trying to push over which allowed Patrice Bergeron to score.
Again, this point isn’t to say Mrazek was bad last night. He made numerous big saves for the Canes, it’s simply saying maybe he wasn’t as good as the Canes needed him to be. We all know Mrazek can shut a team down as he already has two shutouts this postseason. One would imagine he will be back in net for game two and the Hurricanes desperately need him to bring his absolute best on Sunday.
The Ugly - The Entire Third Period
No matter where the fault lies the third period cost the Hurricanes last night. Jordan Staal took a bad penalty to start the period and that allowed the Bruins to tie the game at 2-2. Boston has the momentum at this point and the building was going crazy. What happened shortly after that goal to tie the game is where every Caniac should take major issue.
Dougie Hamilton was called for a roughing minor just seconds after the tying goal. On that very same play just a moment after the back official raises his hand on the Hamilton called Sean Kuraly absolutely obliterates a defenseless Svechnikov from behind. Take a closer look at the plays:
This is the Hamilton roughing penalty pic.twitter.com/TVwy3f5O3P— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 10, 2019
By the letter of the law Hamilton should maybe get a elbowing penalty on his play. But how in the hell Kuraly does not get called for interference on that play is absolutely mind boggling. This may be one of the single worst missed calls of this entire postseason because it directly leads to the Bruins’ game winning goal.
So we are past that go ahead goal now, and the referees call an interference call on Hamilton less than three minutes after the missed call on Kuraly. Take a look at this penalty and see how that compares to the non call:
Dougie Hamilton helping the Bruins AGAIN. This time an interference penalty pic.twitter.com/qNbQLhkQLy— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) May 10, 2019
The key point in both situations is: what should determine interference? Is it where is the puck at? On the Kuraly hit, it is not anywhere near the play. On Hamilton’s penalty, the puck is right at their feet while a board battle is ongoing.
Now, the Hurricanes managed to kill off Hamilton’s second penalty but the question has to be posed, why is one of those a penalty and the other not?
When asked after the game about the calls Brind’Amour gave the cliche answer of the team has to go out and kill it. But a penalty should never directly impact the results of a contest yet here we are once again. It’s beyond time for the NHL to take action when it comes to their officiating. The San Jose vs Vegas series showed us that and now there has been another game that has had it’s outcome directly impacted by terrible officiating. Time to step up NHL, this is unacceptable.
Dougie Hamilton on his two penalties early in the third period: "I just watched both of them, and I didn't agree with either."— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) May 10, 2019
Momentum in hockey is sometimes unstoppable. Giving the Bruins another power play on such a questionable call right after they tied the game gift wrapped the momentum to the Bruins and they easily cashed in. There was nothing the Canes could’ve done about it.
The Canes third period cost them the game, but it certainly was not all their fault. There should be some accountability from the league in regards to the ugly events from last night, but there won’t be and we will go in to game two like nothing ever happened which is truly unfortunate.
Moral of the Story
Last night was a tough pill to swallow because the Hurricanes were the better team through 40 minutes and the game should have been tied early in the third. Instead the Canes found themselves trailing due to something they cannot control. Now they have to find a way to bounce back on Sunday and try to even this series. They cannot let what happened in the last 20 minutes last night affect them going forward. If the Canes come out and play like they did in the first and second they will not only win game two, but they will win this series.