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Bruins home for the summer as Hurricanes cruise to Game 7 win in Carolina

Teuvo Teravainen (center) put Carolina up a goal late in the first period on Saturday, and Max Domi (right) followed with his first two career playoff goals to end the Bruins' season in a first-round Game 7.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

RALEIGH, N.C. — The weight of Game 7 wasn’t nearly as heavy to the Bruins as the two questions they knew would ultimately determine their playoff fate Saturday.

Could they win a game on the road in the postseason? Could they overcome a deficit if they fell behind?

They left PNC Arena Saturday with sobering answers they’ll spend the offseason thinking about after a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes ended their season.

Max Domi scored two goals in a breakout postseason performance. Teuvo Teravainen added the other. Both playing Game 7s for the first time, Canes goalie Antti Raanta (27 saves) won the duel with rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman (28).


A goal from David Pastrnak with 21.7 seconds left and the Bruins’ net empty gave hope, but by then it was too late.

The Bruins were eliminated in the first round for just the second time in this run of six straight postseason appearances under Bruce Cassidy. They failed to win in four tries in Raleigh this series and fell to 1-5 in road Game 7s, the lone victory claiming the Stanley Cup at Vancouver in 2011.

Carolina will face the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 2. The franchise is 6-0 in Game 7s during its 24 seasons since relocating from Hartford.

“Every year you go into to playoffs, you hope that you make a long, deep run and you get a good opportunity for that Cup,” said Brad Marchand. “We knew we were gonna have our hands full with this team. They’ve been great all year long.

“Very well-coached, very well-disciplined in their system. They had a lot of depth. So we knew it was gonna be a tough battle. But we also knew that if we got through this team, we would make a deep run. I think this is probably the toughest group to come out of the East.”


The handshake line was full of long embraces knowing the loss meant facing the uncertain future of captain Patrice Bergeron, who will decide this summer whether he wants to return for a 19th season.

Then, the Bruins were forced to think about all the ways their attempt at climbing out of a two-games-to-none hole fell short.

Discipline mattered.

After Vincent Trocheck cost Carolina an early power play with a retaliatory hit on Craig Smith, the Canes had to wait another three minutes for their first chance with the man advantage. (Derek Forbort, a defensive standout this series, was whistled for holding Jesperi Kotkaniemi at 7:41.) A kick save by Swayman on a shot by Trocheck kept the Canes from cashing in early.

Out of the six shots the Canes got with the advantage, that was their best look against a Bruins kill that was strong all series, and needed to be when Carolina got three power-play cracks in the first 21 minutes.

“We killed the first three power plays,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “I think that happens every time here, doesn’t it?”

Scoring first mattered.

The Bruins had a chance to get it done at the 9:21 mark in the first, when Erik Haula worked a two-on-one with Taylor Hall, but Raanta stopped Hall’s wrist shot.

“Big, timely save by Raanta,” said Cassidy. “If we bury that two-on-one, things might change in a game like today when it’s hard to score.”


Instead, the Canes struck first for the sixth time in seven games, and they didn’t need a power play to do it. Late in the first, Trocheck skated with the puck along the end boards, and Max Domi found open space on the right side of the net thanks to a mix-up between Trent Frederic and Smith.

Carolina connected the dots from there. Trocheck hit Jaccob Slavin and Slavin found Domi, which forced Swayman to slide to his left. Domi made a quick pass to Teuvo Teravainen, who made the easy finish past Swayman’s skate with 1:24 left in the period.

The Bruins once again had to play from behind on the road.

Two-goal leads mattered, and Carolina gained one when Domi darted to the net and scored on Swayman’s blindside to make it 2-0 at 3:14 in the second.

Responding mattered, and the Bruins did not even two minutes later when Bergeron sent a pass to the middle of the ice that deflected off Charlie McAvoy and found Jake DeBrusk, who netted it for his second goal of the series at 5:04.

The Bruins still had to chase, but they were within arm’s reach.

Momentum mattered.

The Canes are a different team at home and a different team with a lead, and they showed both midway through the second. Domi’s second goal of the night was a gut punch.

Domi sneaked into the slot while four Bruins stood and watched Connor Clifton battle Trocheck along the boards for the puck. Trocheck touched it to Teravainen, who found Domi for a lurching finish to put the Bruins back in a two-goal hole.


Pastrnak’s goal with the net empty ultimately offered little solace, but to Bergeron, it spoke to the defining trait of a team that was in ninth place when the league went on hiatus for COVID, but morphed into the second-best team in the Eastern Conference from January on.

“It’s always hard to say that when you come up short, but it is something to be proud of, the way that we battled,” Bergeron said. “I think that’s something we’ve done all year, to be honest with you.”

In the end, they’ll have to live with not being able to win on the road when it mattered most.

“It always hurts, it always will,” Marchand said. “You only get a few opportunities throughout your career where you have a legit chance at going far, and we thought we had that this year. So yeah, it hurts.”

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