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Home ice proved uncharacteristically valuable for Hurricanes in ousting Bruins

The Bruins were beaten by 12 goals in the four games played at Carolina's PNC Arena in their seven-game ouster, with Max Domi crediting the atmosphere as key to the Hurricanes advancing.Jared C. Tilton/Getty

RALEIGH, N.C. — It didn’t take Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron long to point out the deciding factor in the Bruins’ first-round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The series went the distance. The home team won each game.

“I think it was the road games where it hurt us in the long run,” he said. “It was close. It’s a good team that we just battled against. We knew it was going to be a good series. We knew it was going to be a long series. We expected that. Obviously, we needed one on the road and we couldn’t do that.”


The last time the Bruins went an entire playoff series without winning a road game was in 2003, when they lost to the New Jersey Devils in five games.

The Hurricanes won their four home games by 12 goals, the largest single-series differential in franchise history.

Home ice isn’t generally considered an advantage in the playoffs, but Max Domi, who broke out for two goals after going 16 career playoff games without one, credited the fans at PNC Arena.

“You’ve got to give a shoutout to this crowd here,” Domi said. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve never been a part of a rink or an electric atmosphere like that before. So we don’t take that for granted, and they’re just as part of these victories as any player was.”

The Hurricanes have won all six of their Game 7s since relocating from Hartford, starting with two during their 2006 Stanley Cup run. This was the third time they won one at home.

After being knocked out of the postseason by the Bruins in 2019 and 2020, Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said he came into this series thinking this would be the breakthrough.

“It’s such a different feeling coming into this one,” he said. “Back in the other ones, it was like if we would’ve won, you guys might’ve been a little surprised. This time around, I felt like it was our time. Our guys are matured, and I think they felt that too.”


Bruce Cassidy content to let others handle the hype

Bruce Cassidy isn’t the type to have a Knute Rockne-type speech tucked away for moments like the one the Bruins were in Saturday. If anything, he’ll wait for a moment during the game when he feels like he needs to spark the pilot light.

Before the puck dropped for the Bruins’ 3-2, Game 7 loss in Carolina, Cassidy left it to Bergeron to address the group. Instead of focusing on the outcome of a winner-take-all game, Cassidy simply focused on making sure his team was prepared.

“You can talk about the finality of a Game 7 if it doesn’t go your way, but for us, it’s on your effort and execution,” he said.

The Bruins are 15-14 all-time in Game 7s, and 1-5 on the road.

In his first Game 7, rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman had the same relaxed-but-ready demeanor he’s had before every other game this season. Cassidy left it to goaltending coach Bob Essensa to check in before the game.

“I don’t want to get in Swayman’s head or anybody’s head,” Cassidy said.

He didn’t have to drive home the importance of the game.

“He never changes,” Cassidy said. “It’s a great challenge for him.”

Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta was in the same position, playing in his first Game 7.


“It’s a great challenge for him,” Cassidy said. “For both of them, that’s how you start establishing your legacy.”

Nick Foligno battling without the numbers to show for it

Nick Foligno’s played a thankless role on the fourth line all season. He was rewarded in Game 6 with an assist on a third-period goal by Curtis Lazar, Foligno’s first point of the series.

Cassidy understands how different this is for Foligno, a player with 61 games of playoff experience, including a 10-game run two years ago in which he scored two goals and had four assists with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It’s tough to play that role and never show up on the scoresheet when you’ve typically done it,” Cassidy said. “If you’ve been a guy that’s never been on the scoresheet for 10 years in the league, you sort of learn how to. But he has been, so that’s the adjustment, not to let it bother him and block out some of the comments or whatever if that’s what he’s hearing about his numbers, because he’s not in a role where he’s going to put up great numbers.”

It hasn’t been easy.

“He doesn’t love it,” Cassidy said. “He wants to play more. They all do. He’s had 1,000 games in the NHL and he’s used to playing more and having a bigger role. We’ve discussed that as the year’s gone on, that’s what’s there for him. I would appreciate it — and the team would — if he accepted it and still played with emotion and was a good leader.


“He’s talked to me and the coaches a couple times about how can I earn a little more, et cetera. Sometimes when you have a good team — and I certainly put us in that category — there’s just other guys we’ve put in roles that are doing a good job. So a little bit of that goes on as well.”

But when the Bruins signed Foligno to a two-year, $7.6 million deal last July, it was with these moments in mind.

“He’s a high-character guy,” Cassidy said. “It’s one of the reasons he was signed. For this time of year, to help us in these areas, in these types of games.”

Foligno logged just 8:12 on ice and had a single shot Saturday. Only Trent Frederic (7:55), who rang the post with a near tying goal just before Carolina went up 3-1, saw less time.

Plenty of winner-take-all on tap

Saturday’s game at PNC Arena was the first of five deciding Game 7s in the eight first-round series, with the Rangers on Friday night forcing one against the Penguins and the Stars another with the Flames. Three are in the Eastern Conference, with only Florida’s six-game win over Washington ending early. ”I don’t think anybody’s surprised,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Any one of these eight teams we’re playing in the East, if you say they’re going to be the champs at the end, you wouldn’t go, ‘Oh, that’s shocking’ ” . . . Aaron Ward, who played five seasons in Carolina and was part of their 2006 Cup champion squad before a three-season stop in Boston, handled pregame siren duties, wearing a Hurricanes jersey.


Julian Benbow can be reached at julian.benbow@globe.com.