The Bruins were charging, looking for the tying goal in the third period. Carolina was keeping them to the outside. It was the type of situation suited for David Pastrnak, an ace at stickhandling and shooting the Bruins out of trouble.
But Pastrnak was sitting in the stands at Scotiabank Arena, observing the swells and shouts of Game 2. He wore a mask and the dreaded “unfit to play” tag.
Thus the Bruins fell, 3-2, to the Hurricanes without their top scorer, unable to find that tying goal in a frenzied final few minutes after ex-Bruin Dougie Hamilton nailed the go-ahead strike at 8:30 of the third period.
“It’s our turn to push back,” coach Bruce Cassidy said, noting his team’s need to clean up mistakes in its own zone that led to all three Carolina goals.
This first-round series is tied at 1, entering Game 3 at noon Saturday.
David Krejci and Brad Marchand scored for the Bruins, but the hero was James Reimer. The Carolina backup’s last postseason start came in Game 7 of the 2013 first round, when he and the Maple Leafs allowed four late goals in the Bruins’ stunning comeback. He made 33 saves on 35 shots on Thursday, pointing to the sky after escaping the Bruins’ last-ditch charge with two stops in the final 10 seconds.
“You’re never going to replace Pasta,” Marchand said. “It was a big hole for our team.”
The Bruins opened the night with Anders Bjork on the top line and kept him there, other than a brief Karson Kuhlman turn in the second period. Bjork landed one shot in 11:21. Pastrnak, the happy-go-lucky goal-scoring king (48) of the NHL this season alongside Alex Ovechkin, is believed to have suffered an injury late in Game 1.
“Questionable from the game yesterday,” Cassidy said afterward, adding that Pastrnak would be a game-time decision for Game 3. He alluded that Pastrnak needed to test an injury.
The Bruins will not have a morning skate for the noontime puck drop.
On Boston’s first power play chance, Krejci slid into Pastrnak’s right-circle spot on the No. 1 unit. There was no drop-off in production.
The veteran playmaker found the puck at the top of the Bruins’ shifting power play formation. He sent a seeing-eye shot through a maze of sticks and bodies in front at 15:41, scoring the Bruins’ first opening goal in a game since March 10.
Carolina charged back in the second period, earning several long stretches of possession in the Bruins’ zone. They were also gifted a marginal elbowing call against Chris Wagner, which helped them tie the game with 4:47 left in the second. Teravainen walked in and sniped a wrister over Tuukka Rask’s blocker.
Just 1:28 later, the Bruins couldn’t pick up Svechnikov, who took a sharp feed from the wall and was all alone in the middle. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft, who had fed Teravainen his goal with a spinning forehand feed, fired a similar shot in a similar spot. Hard, high, and past Rask in a hurry.
The Bruins got it back before intermission. Torey Krug had a scoring chance and wheeled away from the net. Teravainen was called for interference when Krug tripped backward over his leg.
With 4.4 seconds left in the frame, Marchand snapped home his own rebound off a Bergeron feed he tipped off the post.
Rask, who stopped 23 of 26 shots (.885), made his best save of the night in the opening minute of the third, turning back Vincent Trocheck after a curl-and-drag move from the slot.
Teravainen created more trouble for him. At 3:26 of the period, referee Wes McCauley immediately waved off a loose puck that crossed the line after Teravainen fought through the crease and bumped Rask. After a review, officials upheld the call. More annoyance for Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour, who was fined $25,000 for voicing his displeasure with net-front officiating in Game 1. He was tight-lipped afterward.
Asked if Carolina was taking liberties with him or if the bumps were part of playoff hockey, Rask took a different tack.
“It doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey right now,” he said. “There’s no fans. It feels like an exhibition game.”
Marchand gently disagreed.
“Maybe he was talking about the round robin games,” Marchand said. “These are playoff games.
“It’s definitely different. It doesn’t have the same atmosphere. . . . Unfortunately, that’s playoffs this year. At least we’re playing.”
Their next task is to axe the weak plays and mistakes in front of their net that let Carolina dictate much of the third. At 8:30 of the frame, Hamilton arrived. The ex-Bruin stepped into a short feed and sent a rocket past Rask’s glove. All three Hurricanes goals were snipes.
“First of all, it’s my grandma’s birthday, so I think that one’s for her,” said Hamilton, asked if the opponent brought added significance. “Otherwise, I think it’s great to score against your old team in the playoffs in the third period.”
A minute later, Warren Foegele drew a hooking call on Charlie McAvoy, giving the Canes a chance to put it out of reach. Marchand, Sean Kuraly, and Joakim Nordstrom produced a potential game-saving shift, skating their way into several scoring chances in the Carolina end. They grunted and sweated their way to several more in the final minutes, but no payoff. Series, even.
“You don’t replace Pasta,” Cassidy said. “We’ll take another look at it and see what we come up with Saturday.”