The Bruins knew the deal: To win this series, they’d have to win a game in Carolina.
They have earned the right to try.
Boston’s 5-2 victory in Game 6 gave them a Saturday date in Raleigh, N.C., where they have not won all season.
On Thursday they scored first (Brad Marchand’s wicked wrister), extended the lead (Charlie Coyle’s power-play goal), and put up three goals in the third to leave TD Garden smiling.
Whether they can quiet PNC Arena in Game 7 remains the largest question of their season.
Observations from Game 6:
▪ Defenseman Hampus Lindholm, back in the lineup after being out three games with an upper-body injury, was massive. He played a game-high 24:48 and impacted play in all three zones with a sharp stick and quick wheels. Easily his best game of the postseason.
“He makes it look easy,” Coyle said.
He reunited with McAvoy, giving the Bruins the primo pair they saw for seven games in April. With less than 10 minutes gone in the first, Lindholm erased a DeBrusk turnover by snatching Aho’s dangerous pass after waiting him out. McAvoy then ran over Aho for the exclamation point.
Lindholm created Boston’s first power play with his feet, taking a puck north from the neutral zone and feeding Nosek, who drew a hook.
▪ Will Bruce Cassidy roll the same lineup? He went back to what was working pre-playoffs: DeBrusk on the first line, Pastrnak on the second line, Trent Frederic on the third.
Hall and Haula, to Cassidy’s eye, look more confident with Pastrnak. DeBrusk clearly loves skating with Marchand and Bergeron. Frederic hasn’t played much of late, but he can complement a big-boy line with Coyle and Craig Smith.
“You hope you make the right call for the right reasons,” Cassidy said. “Tonight it worked out for us. We’ll see what we have to do in Carolina.”
▪ Protecting a one-goal lead in the third, the Bruins weren’t inspiring confidence. They were running around. Charlie McAvoy was hurting on the bench after a shoulder-to-shoulder stapling from Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
But Hampus Lindholm picked off a pass. Jake DeBrusk held the offensive zone. The reunited Taylor Hall-Erik Haula-David Pastrnak line played hot potato with the puck, until McAvoy arrived.
He curled out high, above the right circle, and fed Haula for a slot tip past Antti Raanta. Bruins, 3-1, at 7:08 of the third.
▪ Derek Forbort made it a three-goal lead at 10:43, his screened shot from the left point deflecting off Kotkaniemi and fluttering home. That came after some dogged work by the fourth line, which nearly scored moments before.
▪ Curtis Lazar, who couldn’t lift a backhand during the aforementioned sequence, shuttled home an empty-netter at 15:43 after Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek bulled the puck out of the zone.
▪ Jeremy Swayman stopped his first 19 shots, but Andrei Svechnikov beat him with a short-side snapper over the blocker after the Bruins’ top line got bunched up in the defensive zone. No one had Svechnikov, who made it 2-1 at 3:24 of the third.
The rookie made one of his best a few minutes after, denying Martin Necas’s backhand breakaway bid after a breakdown by the Bruins. A response from the Bruins, who scored the next three goals, and the netminder.
Swayman, who made 23 saves, is the obvious choice to start Game 7. It will be his career-high fifth start in a row.
▪ For the first time in the series — and in nine meetings against the Hurricanes this season — the Bruins scored the opening goal.
Some 46 seconds into the second period, Marchand rolled down the right wing and ripped one short-side glove on Raanta. Not the sharpest strike the Finn has allowed this series. Marchand celebrated with a single-arm stick raise and a deadpan expression.
Helping paint the scene: series villain Tony DeAngelo, who changed off as Marchand cruised to the far blue line. Connor Clifton filled the lane with a 100-foot outlet, and DeAngelo’s absence let Marchand scoot solo into the zone.
DeAngelo was booed, Kyrie-style, every time he touched the puck.
▪ In Game 5, the Bruins flopped on special teams, and had zero puck luck. Both flipped in Game 6 on Causeway Street.
They once again took too many penalties, but killed five of six, including 54 seconds of a five on three. They also went 1 for 3 on the power play, Coyle’s putback of a fortunate bounce giving them a two-goal edge.
▪ Perhaps guilty of not shooting enough on their first PP, the Bruins were looking like the same bunch after DeBrusk drew a hold in front of the net late in the second (getting to the net: it works). They held the puck on the perimeter, trying to set up the right play.
They finally scored with Coyle and Smith fighting for real estate in front of Raanta. Pastrnak’s one-time bomb was partially blocked by Sebastian Aho, and the puck landed in front of Coyle. He deposited it into an empty cage with 1:56 left in the second.
“Net-front goal to extend the lead,” Cassidy said. “I’m glad they scored that way. It’ll give them confidence they can do it again on Saturday.”
▪ The PK was fantastic, and also lucky. The Hurricanes hit the post twice on their first power play, on which the Bruins were scrambling.
They survived that. They survived an offensive-zone stick foul from Frederic, a bad penalty made worse when McAvoy was guilty of a hold.
The resulting five on three saw Patrice Bergeron, Forbort and Brandon Carlo out for the entire 54 seconds. Forbort’s block of a Svechnikov slapper was crucial.
▪ The Bruins don’t want to take penalties, but few teams in the postseason can roll PK pairs as rangy and effective as Lindholm-McAvoy and Forbort-Carlo.