RALEIGH, N.C. — The Bruins’ Game 5 was a tale of penalties and puck luck, turnovers, and some goaltending that wasn’t poor, but surely wasn’t sharp.
The Hurricanes outworked them. They elbowed their way in front, stayed there, and made it 4-0 on a deflection on the power play that Jeremy Swayman stopped, but couldn’t find. Seth Jarvis collected the loose change at 3:31 of the third. The Hurricanes skated away with the game, 5-1.
Start the buses. The Bruins are one game from spring tee times.
Observations from PNC Arena:
▪ The Bruins couldn’t stay out of the box, though some of those calls were questionable, and they weren’t quick enough on the penalty kill. They cut two of their power plays short with minors of their own. For as badly as they are being outscored (12-5) at five on five in this series, they cannot afford to let the Hurricanes go 2 for 5 on the power play (with 11 shots).
Brad Marchand was giving the Hurricanes full credit afterward.
“They’re an extremely good team,” he said. “They play hard, they play fast. They’re a great team and they’re competing hard out there.”
Boston also generated little on its own power plays (0 for 3, three shots). Not a recipe for success. What’s most concerning: the lack of skating pop seen up and down the lineup. Some Bruins are clearly ailing — witness Craig Smith limping to the bench — but as a team, they looked a step slow, a beat behind the revved-up Canes. When Taylor Hall broke away with David Pastrnak on a 2 on 1 midway through the third, Jaccob Slavin neatly swallowed Hall’s cross-ice feed.
“Not enough up and down the lineup,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’re going to need a little bit more … I thought we started well. We just needed something good to happen.”
▪ The most energetic moment for the Bruins all night was when defenseman Connor Clifton joined the rush and tucked one between Antti Raanta’s pads at 10:09 of the third. It was the first goal by a Bruins defenseman in this series.
▪ The Bruins spent little time in the attacking zone and the Hurricanes recovered quickly to shut down their breakouts. Their best looks came in the first period, when they had seven high-danger chances (to Carolina’s two), per Natural Stat Trick. Marchand was kicking himself after this: He had time to cut to the backhand, fake a forehand, and lift a backhand. Raanta stopped it with the cuff of his glove.
“A lot of what-ifs in the game,” Marchand said. “All that matters is we let this one go.”
▪ The Grade-A looks flipped in the second (10-2, Hurricanes). Swayman made 24 saves through 40 minutes, holding the Bruins in it as they tried to solve the Canes’ defense. He was OK, but allowed a few too many rebounds … and his first goal against was a softie.
After Andrei Svechnikov drilled Matt Grzelcyk to put the Bruins out of position in the defensive zone, Tony DeAngelo walked the blueline and threaded a nifty backhand flip to partner Slavin. The ensuing wrist shot from the circle leaked through the netminder at 6:11 of the first. The Hurricanes have scored first in all eight meetings this year.
“Not as clean as he had been,” said Cassidy, who didn’t say whether Swayman would get the call again in Game 6. “I’m not putting this on Jeremy. We need to finish better when we get our opportunities early. That’s an issue for us.”
▪ It’s not difficult to determine why the Hurricanes scored a power play goal to make it 2-0. The Bruins, who had done well to shut down lanes and block shots from the point in Games 3 and 4, left DeAngelo open for a one-timer. The puck deflected in off Charlie McAvoy.
What’s curious is why the Bruins were killing a penalty in that situation. Derek Forbort was whistled for roughing after a scrum that saw him get in one extra shot on Max Domi. Forbort had grabbed Domi after the Hurricanes winger took the first shot. Why referee Jon McIsaac didn’t send them both is a mystery.
▪ The first period got away from the Bruins, who were outshot, 10-3, from the first Hurricanes goal to the buzzer. Turnovers were an issue early, the Hurricanes nearly going on several breakaways. Late in the period, a tired Clifton made a backhand, cross-ice pass to his partner, and Jordan Staal picked it off for an easy Grade-A chance.
Marchand called the Nino Niederreiter-Staal-Jesper Fast trio “probably the best line” in the series. In Raleigh, Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak have seen them all game.
▪ Puck luck certainly wasn’t on the Bruins’ side in Game 5. At 15:52 of the second, the Hurricanes made it 3-0 on this bizarre play: Brandon Carlo’s clearing attempt clanked off Jake DeBrusk’s skates, and the puck fluttered over Swayman’s shoulder.
▪ McAvoy, a surprise return from COVID protocol, looked like his usual self. He logged 25:14 with four hits, three blocks, and two shots. McAvoy arrived at the rink at 4:40 p.m., shortly after taking a private flight to Raleigh, and on his first shift threw a hit on Svechnikov, won a puck battle, and made a quick chip off the boards to put the Bruins on the rush. In his next shift, he was behind the Hurricanes goal. Next shift, more of the same.
“A little tired,” McAvoy said, “but working through it and I’m on the other side of it now. Look forward to feeling better every day.”