The Eastern Conference finals rematch surely wasn’t as exciting as last season’s Bruins-Hurricanes playoff series, but it brought a similar result.
The Black and Gold, finally revving their engines in the final five minutes of the third period, broke a scoreless tie with two in that span. Charlie Coyle and David Krejci, the top two centers, finished the jobs.
Now winners of eight in a row with points in their last 12 (9-0-3), the Bruins are still unbeaten in regulation at home (12-0-4). Only one Black and Gold edition started the season on a longer run without a regulation loss at home: the 1973-74 club, which went 21 games (19-0-2).
The Bruins (20-3-5), the first NHL club to 20 wins, are on their first eight-game winning streak since a 12-gamer in March 2014.
Jaroslav Halak, appearing in his 500th game, pitched his 49th career shutout, stopping 24 shots.
Coyle gave him breathing room after a slick passing play from linemates Danton Heinen and Brad Marchand. Heinen won a battle at the defensive zone and broke out. Entering the zone, he saw Marchand working a defenseman at the dot. So Heinen went outside with his pass, banking it off the boards to Marchand, who curled a quick pass to Coyle at the front of the net. A redirection by Coyle with 4:55 left opened the floodgates.
Krejci scored his 200th goal with 2:57 left, drawing a standing ovation when the feat was annnounced on the videoboard. He tipped a point shot from Charlie McAvoy, just over a minute after Coyle broke the dam.
Carolina (16-11-1), in the first wild-card spot in the East, had been off since beating the Lightning 3-2 in Tampa on Saturday. The Hurricanes have now lost three of four.
Observations after 40 minutes:
■ After mucking it up in a corner battle as the second period horn sounded, David Pastrnak smacked his stick off the glass. His two-period scoring slump must have been frustrating. Pastrnak, like all Bruins, hadn’t found the net after 40 minutes.
■ Shots were 22-18 Boston, but James Reimer stopped everything, as did Halak.
■ The Bruins went 0 for 2 on power plays in the first period, landing six shots. But they failed to score a first-period goal for the fifth time in six games.
■ They earned the first power play of the night after an extended possession by the Jake DeBrusk-Coyle-Heinen line. DeBrusk drew a net-front trip on ex-Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, with Coyle and Heinen working the walls. They had pucks clanking off another ex-Leaf, Reimer, but nothing on the board after four shots.
■ On that power play, Torey Krug tried the end-zone bomb play, slapping a 135-foot pass off the end boards to Pastrnak, who one-timed the carom from below the hashes. Reimer shut his pads. Their other man-up chance came at 9:14, when Jordan Martinook held Matt Grzelcyk. They put a lone shot on net.
■ DeBrusk, hammered into the boards by defenseman Joel Edmundson, tripped the ex-Blue while on the seat of his pants at 14:47 of the first. The Hurricanes landed two shots on the power play, one of them a Lucas Wallmark one-timer from the right circle that Halak turned aside.
■ The only goal celebration happened with 2:08 left in the second, after a strong sequence by Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin. He slid to break up a two-on-one, deflecting DeBrusk’s cross-ice pass attempt to Pastrnak, and took it end to end. He believed he scored with a low, short-side backhander, but the puck went through the side of the net. It was as quick a review as we’ve seen all season.
■ The Hurricanes got the better of the chances overall, and looked like they’d be on the board early in the second. At 1:07, Halak made a shoulder stop on Brock McGinn, who slipped behind coverage at the hashes. Three minutes later, Andrei Svechnikov, leading the Hurricanes in scoring, had a breakaway after McAvoy fumbled a puck at the offensive blue line. Halak deflected his low backhander with his glove. Nino Niederreiter’s slow backhand bid from the slot slipped through Halak’s five-hole, but went off the post and out.
■ One of Boston’s best chances: Marchand’s slapper from the high slot, off a Heinen rush midway through the second. Reimer didn’t know where it was, but it wasn’t in the net.
■ Pastrnak let his frustration get the better of him late in the first. After a battle behind the net, he took a few shoves at Warren Foegele and hauled him down by his jersey collar. Two minutes, roughing, and no Dunkin’ cold brew waiting for him in the box.
■ Bruce Cassidy rebooted his top two lines in the latter half of the first period, shifting Pastrnak to the DeBrusk-Krejci pairing and letting Marchand play with Coyle and Heinen. Coyle put four pucks on net in 5:22 of first-period ice time, and five in the first 40 minutes of play.
Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports