The first period was like a boxing match. The first two teams traded jabs but the Canes threw the first blow by splitting up Staal, Whitney and LaRose. Erik Cole was inserted in place of LaRose and Staal was double shifted throughout the night to avoid Zdeno Chara. The best chance of the period was when Patrice Bergeron was set up with a wide open net. Bergeron chipped the puck over the net and as he said afterwards, “the puck was kind of rolling when it came and I hit it flat so it just didn’t go anywhere near where I wanted to put it.” After that, it seemed the all the Bruins could muster were weak shots, mostly from the perimeter. The Bruins outshot Carolina 13-8 in the first and Cam Ward was benefitting from the Hurricanes and their improved committment to defense.
The second period was by far, the worst period the team has played in the playoffs. Far too many mental mistakes were made here. The Hurricanes opened the scoring when Eric Staal, from behind the net, fed a pass to Joe Corvo at the point. Corvo took a stride and blasted one, short side above Thomas. Just five minutes later with Joni Pitkanen in the penalty box, the Bruins were attacking. Chara, from his point, went cross ice to Dennis Wideman but the pass was too slow and in stepped Chad LaRose. He stole the puck and sprinted down his left wing. Chara and Wideman forced him behind the net but both men paid attention to the puck carrier. LaRose turned, passed it to a wide open Matt Cullen and he too, went short side, high over Thomas. Afterwards Thomas said he “
didn’t see either one of them. The second goal I probably could have beat the guy to the puck, I had to make a judgment, I wasn’t sure, so I played it safe and sat back. So I guess I could have diffused the play if I would’ve went and played it, but I played it cautious and then it was just kind of a messed up play.”
The Bruins dodged an early nail in the coffin at the end of the second period. Dennis Seidenberg blasted a shot with 4 seconds to go from center ice. Thomas made the save but kicked the rebound out to Chad LaRose. LaRose's rebound shot beat Thomas, hit the crossbar and post and appeared to drop in the net before bouncing out. All this with just .2 sceonds left in the period. The ref was right on the spot and immediately waved it as no goal. After a lengthy review, the Bruins were “awarded” their only moral victory of the night.
The Bruins played the third period mostly in the Carolina end. Marc Savard, and Michael Ryder led the charge to get back into the game. The problem was Cam Ward played his best period and stoned the B's time and time again. He made a save on Ryder with 6:43 to go that was highway robbery. Off a goalmouth scramble, the puck was kicked out to Ryder in the slot and he buried a beautiful shot. How Ward got his left pad out to stop it, I don't know. If you couldn't see that it wasn't the Bruins night up until then, the writing was on the wall after that one.
Eric Staal closed out the scoring with an empty netter with 33 seconds to go.
Tonight's three stars are…
1 – Cam Ward. Early on, he wasn't so impressive as much as the Hurricane defense was so much better that he didn't have problems seeing the puck. He was very impressive in that third period when the B's outshot the Canes 16-3
2 – Erik Cole. After being bumped up to the Canes first line, Cole was a force and assisted on the first goal of the night
3 – Chad LaRose. I would have flipped LaRose & Cole. LaRose was immense killing penalties and was a pest all night as he hit everything in a black sweater. His steal and eventual assist on the short handed goal took the life out of the Bruins, their fans and put a hush over the building that hasn't been heard since the doldrums on late February.
The Bruins continued their perfection on the penalty kill going a solid 1-1 on the PK. They had a goose egg on the power play, going 0-4. The disturbing trend is the Bruins started out 4-9 (44%) after game 2 of the Montreal series. Currently, they are 4-23 (17%) and that's 0-14 since the start of game 3 in Montreal.
Game 3 is Wednesday night in Carolina. The good thing from a Bruin perspective is that building will be as loud as it was in Montreal so the B's won't be surprised when they get there.
About the Author
Written by Jim Mulligan