It was a game won by four of the unlikeliest of heroes for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Two players who were making their playoff debuts — one young, the other a bit greyer — and two players who have struggled to make their presence felt in the postseason.
The Hurricanes put together a total team effort Monday night at PNC Arena, as Antti Raanta — making his first playoff start — stopped 35 shots against the Boston Bruins in Game One of their first-round series.
Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck put the team on their back with monster performances and rookie Seth Jarvis got the ball rolling with his first playoff tally in his first playoff game.
To start each period, the Canes battled to survive Boston’s onslaught. The Bruins pushed in waves every period, generating looks off of cycles and crisp passes, but Raanta looked like the seasoned veteran he is.
Timely saves and even timelier sticks by his defense — both Brendan Smith and Ian Cole made goal line saves — kept the Bruins from getting on the scoreboard and the tenacious nature of the Hurricanes forecheck saw the ice tilt at the halfway point in each period.
In the first period, the Hurricanes pushback didn’t lead to anything, but the end of the second period provided some much needed fireworks for the home team.
In his playoff debut, Jarvis stepped right up to the plate. Not enough can be said of the kid’s spirit and tenacity and he found himself the beneficiary of his own determination providing the net-front and tip in front of Linus Ullmark for the series’ first goal.
Many weren’t sure if the rookie was even going to make the cut to join the roster out of training camp, but after an early injury in the forward group, Jarvis jumped in and never looked back. Now he’s helping lead his team to Stanley Cup Playoff wins.
From there, the momentum kept pushing in Carolina’s favor and the next shot, a seeing-eye bullet from Nino Niederreiter, found its way to the back of the net.
Both goals showcased the quintessential rule of hockey: if you want to score goals, go to the front of the net. Jarvis’ goal, a tip out in front. Nino’s goal, a double layer of traffic to take away the goaltender’s eyes.
The third period had the same exact flow, with the Bruins coming out of the gate pushing hard, however, this time Boston actually managed to break the shutout.
Three Hurricanes got stuck behind the goal line trying to win the board battle, which left Taylor Hall open to receive and rip a shot from the top of the circles. The puck may have hit a Hurricanes on the way in, but the end result was the same. The lead had been halved.
The game had reached a pivotal moment and soon after his goal, Hall rang the post. Carolina could feel the pressure coming.
But then they found a release valve.
Off of a bad Bruins pinch, Vincent Trocheck stole the puck away and went on a 2-on-1 rush with Teuvo Teravainen. Trocheck passed it across to Teravainen who lined up his shot and rifled it home
With that goal, Teravainen now has more playoff goals (17) than assists (16), if you can believe that.
But the Canes had found some breathing room.
As the period wound down and it seemed like Boston would lift Ullmark any second to get the extra attacker, Carolina put the dagger in.
Coming down the left side, Trocheck skated past the goal line and threw a backhander on net where it ricocheted off of Ullmark and in.
The rout was on from there and Andrei Svechnikov would hammer home an empty net goal soon after to cap off the Hurricanes’ victory.
There is still some work to be done, and play to be cleaned up, but all in all the team has to be happy with a statement win.
The Hurricanes will be back on the ice at PNC Arena Wednesday for Game 2.