About last night:
22 penalties, 9 roughing calls, 2 injuries, but the Canes took game two.
There were 22 combined penalties in this game, and at one point, four Bruins squished in one penalty box. Sure, we knew there was animosity between these two teams. There’s the smell of revenge looming over this series.
But the gloves were off at every possible opportunity, and the physicality of these two teams has altered the game.
“Like I said all year, whatever way the game goes I think we’re pretty capable of playing it,” said Rod Brind’Amour. “If it’s a physical game, I think we have plenty of guys who can do that. If it’s a skill game, I think we’re pretty capable of doing that, too. It was a hard-fought game again. Everybody is playing their behinds off, so far for us it’s been good.”
Andrei Svechnikov was a hit machine last night, recording nine hits in total. He did rock Hampus Lindholm which led to an injury, but it was a clean hit and treated as so.
“He’s a power forward,” Brind’Amour said. “That’s his game. To be effective, that’s kind of how he has to play. You never want to see guys get hurt. I don’t like seeing our goalie get taken out, either. But one was legal and one was not, if you really want to break it down. Svech has gotten so much better at doing it within the way you are supposed to do it in the last year or year and a half.”
The kid comes in
After Antti Raanta suffered an injury following a David Pastrnak collision, Pyotr Kochetkov was the only option left to head between the pipes. Canes starting netminder Frederik Andersen remains out with an injury, so the kid had to come in and take over. It was just his fourth NHL game and first Stanley Cup playoff appearance.
“We’ve got faith in the kid,” Brind’Amour said. “We’ve seen him. It’s not like we’re throwing him in and going ‘we don’t know what we have.’ We’ve seen him. The guys responded with the way they played in front of him, but he responded with the way he played. There’s a lot of faith in that group with our goalie.”
He allowed just two goals last night on 32 shots, for a .938 save percentage. He became the fourth goaltender ever to win their Canes/Whalers playoff debut by making 30 or more saves, joining Mike Liut, James Reimer and Antti Raanta.
“I had full confidence that he was going to clutch that out like he had been doing at the end of the season,” said Sebastian Aho. “Just a great goalie. Makes clutch saves and you really want to work hard for a guy like that. He’s always willing and moving. Works hard in the practice, so I wasn’t surprised that he came through in the clutch again.”
Antti Raanta did not return to the game last night after suffering a blow to the head from Bruins’ David Pastrnak. He had made all six saves that were sent his way at the time. Pastrnak received a minor for goaltender interference, but there were debates about the nature of the hit. Raanta did not enter concussion protocol, but there’s not much to know so far.
“I’ll know more in a little while,” Brind’Amour said. “Obviously he didn’t come back, so that’s not a good sign. But he was in good spirits after the game. I think tomorrow will tell a little more.”
When Svechnikov spoke to the media, he said that he thinks Raanta is good and that he looked good when he saw him.
Setbacks in the first only helped
The first period was a perfect illustration of playoff hockey. Despite the injury to Raanta, the Canes fought back. It was a fast-paced, physical period where the Canes were able to score two goals.
“We’re not going to get pushed around, I guarantee you that,” said Tony DeAngelo.
Jesper Fast attempted to eliminate Kochetkov’s worries soon after he entered the ice. Jordan Staal found Fast with a great pass, and he was able to capitalize, giving the Canes the first lead of the night.
Luckily, they never gave up that lead. It was Aho who further stretched the lead, with a tip-in from a DeAngelo shot that we all expect. DeAngelo ended the game with three assists, continuing to prove that he fits like a glove on this Carolina squad.
Special teamers succeeded
As the second period began, the Canes were on a power play. For the first time in a long time, the man-advantage looked good and was able to produce. It was Aho again, just a minute into the period that knocked a shot in from the point to give the Canes a 3-0 lead and Kochetkov a nice padding to fall back on, if necessary.
From that point forward, seemingly everyone was always on a power play throughout the whole period. The Bruins struck next, scoring on the man-advantage, but the Canes returned the favor as Niederreiter scored his first of the night.
The power play was mighty impressive, and if it can continue to be so, it can be a dangerous weapon.
How it ended
There was a moment of scare as Patrice Bergeron knocked in his second of the night to make it 4-2. The Canes were on the kill and the Bruins pulled their goalie fairly early. It was 6-on-4 madness, but the Canes were able to overcome it.
“Trust would be the word,” Aho said. “Trust the system. Trust your linemate. Trust your teammate. Trust everything. That gives you confidence to go and do your own thing. Like I said, a lot happened today. It would have been easy to go off the rails and start doing stuff you don’t need to do. I think we did a pretty good job of keeping going.”
Niederreiter scored his second of the night, courtesy of a late empty-netter to secure the win. It was a rough, physical game with a few injuries to speak of, but the Canes are traveling to Boston undefeated thus far.
The Canes take on the Bruins at TD Garden on Friday night, as they look to gain a 3-0 lead in the series. The game is at 7pm ET on TNT.
The goalie situation continues to be the topic of interest. Will Antti Raanta be healthy? Will Freddie be healthy? Or will Kochetkov have another opportunity to prove himself?