The Boston Bruins are one win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final thanks to another spectacular performance by goaltender Tuukka Rask and another inspired effort by the Bruins fourth line.
The Bruins behind Rask, held on to beat the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Final 2-1 and now lead the best of 7 series 3-0.
As expected, the Hurricanes came out flying in the first but the B’s survived that initial adrenaline rush. Tuukka stood on his head the entire first period turning away 20 shots. Twelve came on four power plays (including a 5-on-3.)
“Yeah I think I had my eyes closed for three of them,” Cassidy said to a round of laughs.
Rask kept the game scoreless after one. If not for his otherworldly performance in the first period the game could have been over. Cassidy says he’s not sure he’s ever seen his goaltender play better.
“For me, I don’t know if there’s been another period [where he’s been this good],” Cassidy said. “And I’ll tell you why….because it’s the urgency and the time of the year.
“You need to get something out of that period, obviously,” Hurricanes coach Rob Brind’Amour said. “I think not getting anything is a little bit demoralizing.”
While the Canes were clearly demoralized, Rask’s superman act kept his Bruins teammates calm and in the game.
“To me, Tuukka is always one of those guys that’s calm and collected,” Bergeron said. “He’s always even-keeled and right now he’s in a zone.”
“He’s such a calming presence for us,” Charlie McAvoy added. “Obviously they came out and they played real hard at the beginning. We probably gave up more scoring chances than we would’ve liked, but Tuukka stood tall for us, allowed us to come into [the first] intermission at 0-0 and reset.”
Tuukka Rask just refuses to let pucks in the net anymore pic.twitter.com/yS1Tj0SuLL
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) May 15, 2019
Boston got on the board early in the first thanks to the B’s 4th line. Chris Wagner tipped in a pass from Joakim Nordstrom to beat Curtis McElhinney (who started in place of Petr Mrazek who was shelled in Game 2.)
Boston went up 2-0 a few minutes later on a power play goal by Brad Marchand. A soft backhander that that snuck by McElhinney.
Calvin DeHaan got the canes on the board at the 13:48 mark making it 2-1 after 2 periods.
But Rask shut the door from there holding the Canes scoreless in the 3rd as the B’s held on to win and are now just one win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
“We’re in the Eastern Conference Finals,” Cassidy said. “You see the tough environment in Toronto, and the good offensive team in Columbus that just beat Tampa, and he found his game as that went along. And obviously tonight in a difficult environment — a team that had a lot of urgency, more than us early on — but I guess right now is probably the best I’ve seen him play. I don’t want that to come off the wrong way because in those runs he was excellent as well, but right now because of the magnitude of the season, I think right now would be [his best performance].”
- Justin Williams continued his descent into madness taking 3 first period penalties. Clearly Brad Marchand still in his head after Game 2.
- Chris Wagner who scored the Bruins first goal took a puck to his right arm on a blocked shot. He left the ice and did not return and was reportedly seen wearing a sling after the game.
- The Bruins have not won 6 straight playoff games going back to the Columbus series when they trailed 2 games to 1.
- The Canes will be trying to avoid being swept in Game 4 on Thursday which would make them the first team to sweep a series and then get swept … since they did it to the Islanders last round.