In the first period alone of Tuesday night’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final, the Carolina Hurricanes possessed a 20-6 advantage in shots on goal, aided along by 6 minutes of power play time -- including a 5-on-3 for good measure.
And still, the artists formerly known as the Hartford Whalers could not score.
While the Bruins were also blanked by Carolina’s second-string netminder Curtis McElhinney in the opening 20 minutes, Boston’s ability to weather the storm created the sense of a formality that it would pounce on its chances come the second frame. Once again, the Bruins seized the moment, totally flipping the script from the first period and leaving the Hurricanes on the brink of elimination after a 2-1 win in Raleigh.
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Chris Wagner and Brad Marchand each scored within the first 6:28 of the second period, taking whatever air was left inside PNC Arena outside of the building. Carolina couldn’t muster so much as a shot on net for the first 8 minutes of the middle period, reverting to the hapless team that no-showed at TD Garden in Game 2 of the series.
Calvin de Haan cut into Boston’s lead at 13:28 of the second, beating Tuukka Rask five-hole on a slap shot from the left point.
That would be the lone blemish of the night for Rask, who was sensational yet again for the Bruins with 35 saves.
Since trailing vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round, two games to one, Boston has reeled off six straight wins, with Rask turning aside 196 of the 205 shots he's faced -- good enough for a tidy .956 save percentage.
He had to remain on his A-game after allowing somewhat of a soft goal to de Haan, given McElhinney's ability to settle down. An apparent power play goal for Torey Krug was waved off immediately early in the third period thanks to goaltender interference, in which Jake DeBrusk was knocked into McElhinney by Jaccob Slavin. The call on the ice was confirmed after a Bruce Cassidy challenge, and to make matters worse, Matt Grzelcyk was called for a penalty back in the Bruins’ defensive zone before Boston’s power play elapsed.
The Bruins wouldn't solve McElhinney again on the night, but it didn't matter. Carolina couldn't score with the extra attacker on over the final two minutes of regulation, moving Boston to within one win of the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2013.
Game 4 is Thursday night in Raleigh, where the Bruins will go for the sweep, at 8 p.m.