Game three of the first round between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins saw one team dominate the final two periods, a stellar goalie performance from the losing team, and a young star on the rise go down in potentially devastating fashion.
Let’s talk about yesterday afternoon and some very tough pills to swallow for the the Canes.
One Good Period
The first period was, far and away, Carolina’s best period of the day. They came out with an extra step, and it felt like they might breakthrough with an early goal on new Bruins starter Jaroslav Halak.
Through twenty minutes, the Hurricanes had a 60/40 edge in shot attempts at 5-on-5 and had three scoring chances and rendered zero to the Bruins.
The Canes came close to opening the scoring when Teuvo Teravainen hit a near-side post. Sebastian Aho also hit a post later on, barely missing what could’ve been a huge goal.
Their best stretch of play came after their second power play. They jumped on the momentum they gained from the man advantage and held the puck deep in the Boston zone for a good portion of time in the second half of the man advantage and the 30 seconds that followed. That’s when a bad break went down, though.
Trevor van Riemsdyk took a four-minute double-minor for high-sticking, rendering a penalty kill for the Hurricanes that stretched into the start of the second period, wherein the Canes lost control of the game and saw things fall apart in game three.
Just Not Good Enough
The Hurricanes killed off the first half of the penalty, but the Bruins very quickly capitalized in the second half of their long power play when Charlie Coyle baseball-batted a puck by Petr Mrazek to break the ice and turn the tables just 14 seconds into the middle frame.
From there, Carolina wasn’t competitive. They got outworked by a veteran Boston team in all three zones. The Canes gave up 12 scoring chances at 5-on-5 in the second period and nine in the third period, compared to just the eight total chances they produced over both periods.
Despite their weak second period, the Hurricanes did find themselves within a goal going into the third period. They were in the game, and it was because of one player and one player only - we’ll get to that in a bit.
That hope didn’t last long into the third period, however, as the Canes got a power play opportunity and, flatly, blew their chance. They allowed a shorthanded goal on a total defensive zone breakdown. It was Sean Kuraly who doubled the Boston lead at 1:16 of the period, when Vincent Trocheck totally lost his man.
All afternoon, Carolina’s power play was nothing short of pathetic. They had a couple of strong shifts, but over their five power plays, they failed to out-chance Boston’s penalty kill. In a playoff game, you can’t afford for your power play to not just be stagnant, but also look like they are the ones killing a penalty.
If there’s one word I’d use to describe the Hurricanes’ effort in game three, it’d be uninspired. They were outworked and out-executed throughout the final two periods in a way that’s pretty concerning.
This time around, there’s no refs to blame. Were there missed calls? Sure, but those missed calls went both ways and it does nothing to take away from the fact that the Hurricanes were totally worked by the Bruins.
There were stretches where it looked like the Hurricanes were finding their game, but when they got some real scoring chances, they just weren’t sharp. Key passes hit skates instead of tapes, they hit some goal posts, and they just couldn’t quite capitalize.
Gifted a Lifeline
6:30 into the third period, down by a score of 2-0, Halak gift-wrapped the Hurricanes a second life. The goalie attempted to clear the zone on his own, but he flung the puck right into the glove of Nino Niederreiter in front of the net. Nino dropped the puck and put it into the vacant net for his first goal of the postseason.
The Hurricanes are gifted a lifeline that they didn't deserve. Halak tried to clear the puck himself, and Nino Niederreiter was there to knock it down and put it in the open net. It's a 2-1 game in the third period of game three. pic.twitter.com/H60OBRTmxI— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) August 15, 2020
At that point in the game, it felt like the Canes had been given new life - another chance. They responded well after the goal, but any sustained pressure was mitigated by the Bruins and pushed out of the zone before the Canes could get them where they wanted them.
Adding Injury to Insult...
And then, disaster struck.
With just a few minutes left in the third period, Andrei Svechnikov engaged in a net-front battle with Zdeno Chara. That battle ended when Svechnikov’s skate hit a rut, causing the 20-year-old to fall very awkwardly.
A potentially devastating sequence here for the Hurricanes. Andrei Svechnikov falls very awkwardly during a net-front battle with Zdeno Chara. Svech is helped off the ice, not putting pressure on his right leg. pic.twitter.com/29gRRjNTwU— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) August 15, 2020
There have been some accusations sent Chara’s way over it being a dirty play, and I’m not going to even engage in that conversation, it was an awkward fall and that’s that.
Regardless, this is a potentially devastating injury for the Hurricanes, who might’ve lost their young star winger for a lengthy period of time. He also missed time last postseason, but this time around is completely different. He is a completely different player and presence on this team now. What he brings can’t be replaced.
We don’t know what the injury is or how severe it is, but for now, based on what we saw, it doesn’t look good.
One Good Thing
The lone positive takeaway from game three was the performance of Mrazek.
After a sometimes shaky outing in game one, Mrazek stopped 36 of the 38 shots he saw and was the only reason why the game was close down the stretch. He gave his team a chance to win the game, which is all you can ask of a goalie in that situation.
If this is a sign of things to come in this postseason, it’s a huge development, especially given how strong James Reimer has also been.