RALEIGH, N.C. — There was still 1:34 to drain from the clock in a game that turned lopsided on the Bruins in the third period but was probably over in the first.
When the puck went into the bench and stopped play, it gave the PNC Arena DJ a chance to have some fun.
The Carolina Hurricanes had a 5-1 win in the bag, and DJ Mista Illz decided the most fitting sounds for a late-game celebration was a Boston favorite: “Sweet Caroline.” The 19,163 fans on hand belted out the “Ohs” as if they were at Fenway Park.
Whether it was coincidental or it was a twist of the dagger the Hurricanes had already driven into the Bruins, it served its purpose.
The Bruins, facing elimination in their first-round series, had to grin, bear it, and hope they got a chance to hear the tune when they return to TD Garden on Thursday for Game 6.
Even with Charlie McAvoy arriving at the last minute after being cleared from NHL COVID protocols, the Bruins were overwhelmed. The Hurricanes are a different monster at home and a different monster with a lead and they pushed the Bruins, who had just climbed out of a 2-0 hole to even the series.
“Obviously, do-or-die situation is not the one we want to be in,” said the Bruins’ Brad Marchand. “But all that matters is that we regroup and get prepared for the next one.
“We know they’re going to push. They’re a good team. You can see they’re very hungry right now. But we just have to give it everything we have the next one and hope there’s a tomorrow.”
Seth Jarvis scored two goals, Tony DeAngelo had a goal and two assists, and Teuvo Teravainen had three assists for the Hurricanes. Antti Raanta made 34 saves and was but a late Connor Clifton goal from earning the first postseason shutout of his career.
Despite long odds after falling behind in the series, the Bruins believed they regained some control by protecting home ice. But as the series swung back to Raleigh, instead they paid for the same mistakes that lost them the first two games.
“Most teams feed off their home crowd, especially playoff time,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “They’re still a younger group, so that affects you even more. I think they’re good no matter where they play, to be honest with you. They came into our building earlier this year and showed us that.”
The Hurricanes have scored first in all five games (and eight straight going back to the three regular-season meetings). Jaccob Slavin provided the first strike. He had Andrei Svechnikov screening Jeremy Swayman in front and his wrist shot slipped through at 6:11.
The Bruins fell behind 2-0 after DeAngelo converted on the power play.
The Hurricanes have been able to count on first-period power plays like clockwork. Six of their 22 power-play opportunities over the first four games came in the first period. A roughing penalty on Derek Forbort gave them their second man-advantage of the period at 11:21.
DeAngelo one-timed a slap shot off a pass from Teravainen that whistled by Swayman (33 saves). The score was just Carolina’s third in 24 power-play opportunities this series
A two-goal deficit has been essentially insurmountable in these playoffs. Going back to the regular season, the Bruins had lost 14 straight after falling behind by two goals. Two of those losses came at the hands of the Hurricanes.
With the lead, the Hurricanes could get comfortable. They stayed out of the penalty box until 7:57 in the second, they won faceoffs, they blocked shots, and they kept the Bruins’ quiet.
The Bruins got their first power play at 7:57 in the second. David Pastrnak got the looked he wanted — a one-time slap shot from the left circle — but Raanta slid right to make the save.
The advantage was cut short with 14 seconds left when McAvoy was called for interference. The Bruins took just two shots on the power play.
The Hurricanes had the advantage once Jesperi Kotkaniemi got out of the box. The Bruins killed the penalty but gave up a goal just as the power-play expired. The Bruins couldn’t clear the puck after Swayman stopped Sebastian Aho’s shot from the slot. Jarvis was in front of the net to swipe at the rebound, but he was wiped out by Brandon Carlo, who tried to slap the puck out of danger, but instead, the puck ricocheted off the skate of Jake DeBrusk. As the puck sailed his way, Swayman flailed desperately to stop it, but couldn’t.
The goal was credited to Jarvis, who sprung up from the ice to celebrate a stroke of puck luck more than anything else.
The bad bounce made an uphill battle that much steeper for the Bruins.
Jarvis didn’t need any luck on his unassisted power-play goal at 3:31 in the third. The score piled on to what was already a foregone conclusion.
The Bruins will head back to Boston clinging to the fact that neither team has won a road game yet.
“So far, it’s been a homer series,” Cassidy said. “So we’d like to continue that for now. The Garden has been good to us in this series, so I think our guys will be obviously motivated.”
But the harsh reality is that even if they force a Game 7, they’ll have to return to a building where they haven’t won since 2020. All-time, the Bruins are 2-8 when they fall behind 3-2 in a best-of-seven series.
“They need to be motivated to play,” Cassidy said. “Because, if we don’t play well, that’s it. It’s over.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.