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Special teams falter in game three loss to Bruins

The Carolina Hurricanes lost their first game of the postseason Friday night, as the Bruins won 4-2 in TD Garden.

Carolina Hurricanes v Boston Bruins - Game Three Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

The Boston Bruins held serve Friday night in TD Garden, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 in their first home game of the postseason to cut the series deficit to 2-1.

The Canes didn’t quite have it, as disastrous special teams play doomed Carolina. The Bruins scored two of their four goals on the power play, while also adding a shorthanded goal in the first period. As for the Hurricanes, Carolina went 0 for 5 with the man advantage.

Special teams have been an overall strength of the Canes all season, as Carolina boasted one of the best penalty kills in NHL history while also posting a top-10 power play during the regular season. But Friday night, the special teams play cost the Hurricanes a chance to win the game.

Vincent Trocheck opened the scoring up for Carolina in the first period, while Jaccob Slavin made things at least a little bit interesting with a goal in the third to cut it to 4-2. Charlie Coyle, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall did the scoring for the home team.

In net was an interesting battle of two budding talents, as Jeremy Swayman and Pyotr Kochetkov battled between the pipes. Swayman was the better of the two, stopping 25 shots compared to Kochetkov’s 24.

For the third straight game to start the series the Canes opened the scoring, as Trocheck found the back of the net to make it 1-0 near the midway point of the first period. Brendan Smith unleashed a shot that Swayman couldn’t fully control, and a diving Trocheck smacked in the rebound for his second goal of the series.

The Canes’ penalty kill was its normal dominant self during the first period, as Carolina easily killed off two Jordan Martinook penalties. In four minutes of time on the penalty kill during the first period, the Canes outshot the Bruins 3-1.

But while the Bruins couldn’t score with the extra man, they found the equalizing goal with the Hurricanes on a power play. A misguided pass in the offensive zone from Jesperi Kotkaniemi led to a break for Boston, and Jake DeBrusk made a good pass to Coyle to tie the game up.

Other than the one shorthanded goal, which he really couldn’t do much against anyway, Kochetkov was really good during the first period. He made a couple of a tricky saves, making a few well-executed aggressive moves on pucks to keep things out of his net.

The second period was the Hurricanes’ first real ugly period of the series, as Boston tallied twice in the middle frame to grab a hold of a 3-1 lead. The lead for the Bruins was the first time this season that Boston has led the Canes.

The first goal came from Marchand, who collected a goal in the slot and sent it past Kochetkov. The second came on the power play, just seconds before the end of a 5-on-3 stint had almost come to an end.

Ian Cole took a bad penalty in the crease that was immediately followed up by a hook from Trocheck. The Canes did well for most of the extended penalty kill, but Pastrnak wristed one past Kochetkov just 12 seconds before Trocheck’s penalty expired.

The Canes had two empty power plays during the second period, including one late after Smith was bloodied up on a roughing by Connor Clifton, not generating much other than a Teuvo Teravainen shot that rang the post.

The Hurricanes got beat on the penalty kill again early on in the third period, as a Trocheck trip led to the fourth goal of the night for the Bruins. Hall and Pastrnak played a nice back-and-forth, with Pastrnak setting up Hall for the tip-in with the extra pass to make it 4-1.

After another empty power play, the Canes got one back thanks to Slavin. The Canes’ star defenseman wristed a shot from the point that somehow made it’s way past Swayman, thanks in big part to traffic from Jordan Staal.

The Canes got some possession and action late in the game after Kochetkov was pulled for the extra skater, but they couldn’t convert those looks into anything on the scoresheet.

With Boston back to life in the series, focus will shift to a Sunday matinee in TD Garden where the Bruins will look to even things up while the Canes hope to take a 3-1 lead heading back home to Raleigh.