With a 3-2 lead and the chance to finish off a first-round series against the Bruins, the Carolina Hurricanes went to Boston and couldn’t get the job done once again Thursday night.
The Bruins beat the Canes 5-2 as many of the issues from games three and four were present for the Hurricanes again in game six, as some ugly special teams play and overall lack of urgency doomed Carolina to another road loss.
While the Canes did a much better job of staying out of the box in this one, Boston still found a way to convert for one power play goal on its three chances. But the other side of the special teams equation was an utter disaster for the Hurricanes, who went 1 for 6 with a man advantage with that one a meaningless consolation goal to make it 5-2.
For the first time this series it was the Bruins who opened the scoring, as Brad Marchand made it 1-0 early in the second period. Charlie Coyle added a power-play goal to make it 2-0, while Erik Haula, Derek Forbort and Curtis Lazar all scored in the third period. For the Canes, Andrei Svechnikov did all the scoring with both goals coming in the final frame.
Antti Raanta was hung out to dry some on his birthday, but he also had a couple he may want back in a 29-save losing effort. Jeremy Swayman stopped 23 shots and got the win for the home team.
The first period was relatively uneventful, as both teams had a couple chances but neither had anything that really threatened the goalie.
The Canes had an opportunity that was blown dead in Boston’s crease, as the whistle came in perhaps a second early as Swayman didn’t appear to have complete control. While slightly fortunate for the Bruins, it certainly wasn’t egregious, though.
Carolina took one penalty in the first period, as Sebastian Aho sat for hooking, but killed it off with ease. Aho took a big, though clean and maybe mostly inadvertent, hit from Charlie McAvoy and was shaken up a bit, though not enough to keep him out for any amount of time.
The first came to a scoreless end with the Canes leading 11-8 in shots on goal and 10-6 in scoring chances.
For the first time this series the Bruins got the scoring started, as Marchand sniped one past the glove of Raanta to make it 1-0 in the first minute of the second period. A bad line change from the Canes let Marchand get in alone, and he roofed past Raanta as the Carolina netminder didn’t react quite quick enough.
The Canes got their first power play shortly after the opening goal, as Jordan Staal made a savvy play to get low and draw a penalty on Connor Clifton.
And the first power play did everything but score for the Hurricanes, as Carolina hit the post twice on the man advantage. The first came on a good drive and shot from Seth Jarvis, as Vincent Trocheck got a redirect that sent it off the post. The second came on a great backhanded move from Nino Niederreiter, who just missed the attempt to roof and hit the iron instead.
The second period took an even sharper downhill turn, as a parade to the penalty box showed that special teams weren’t going to go in Carolina’s favor once again in Boston.
Trent Frederic and McAvoy took penalties close together to give Carolina over a minute of 5-on-3 time, and the Hurricanes did...absolutely nothing.
The Canes got another chance about a minute after the McAvoy penalty came to an end as Haula tried to decapitate Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and once again the Canes did nothing.
It was too much passing and not enough shooting for the Hurricanes on the slew of power play opportunities, as Carolina was gifted a chance to grab a hold of the game and simply couldn’t.
To make matters worse, the Bruins got a man advantage late in the period, and Boston was able to convert to make it 2-0. The Bruins got a shot into traffic that took a friendly bounce to Coyle on the back side, who was all alone to smash it in to double the lead right before the second intermission.
Svechnikov made it a game in the early stages of the third period, giving some desperately needed production from the top line to make it a 2-1 game.
Jarvis and Aho worked together to enter the zone, with Jarvis lacing a nice pass to Svechnikov streaking towards the net. It was a great finish for Svechnikov, who roofed the puck past Swayman.
The Canes got some big momentum after Svechnikov’s goal, but a defensive-zone lapse allowed Boston to make it 3-1 and regain control of the game. The Bruins held possession in the Canes zone for a big chunk of time as Carolina couldn’t clear the puck, and some miscommunication from the Canes let Haula get all alone in the slot to redirect a puck past Raanta.
The Bruins made it 4-1 later in the third, as a deep shot from Forbort took a high deflection off the stick of Kotkaniemi. Raanta initially made a great save to keep the puck out of the net but lost his own stick in the process, and the Canes couldn’t quite clear the zone as Forbort collected at the blue line and fired one in.
Carolina pulled Raanta with 4:30 to play, and almost immediately Lazar fired one in to make it 5-1.
Marchand speared Kotkaniemi with 3:40 to play and got hit with a double minor, and the Hurricanes finally converted on the power play when it didn’t matter as Svechnikov got his second of the night from the circle.
A seven-game series will now come down to just one game, as the Bruins and Canes will square off one final time with everything on the line Saturday in PNC Arena.