After a tough 4-3 double overtime loss to start the series after an odd reschedule/delay, the Hurricanes were right back on the ice a day later seeking a win to even the series.
The game did not start particularly well. Play was disjointed for the Hurricanes and also somewhat for the Bruins. At times, the game looked like ping pong with each team taking turns retrieving pucks in its own end, advancing to the neutral zone and then pitching it forward to be retrieved by the other team. In general, the first period was fairly buttoned down both ways. But the Bruins capitalized on a late power play and exited the period up 1-0.
The front part of the second period was more of the game. Along the way, the Hurricanes encountered more adversity and just bizarreness from the officiating. Jordan Staal had his helmet ripped off without a call. And my absolute favorite play so far in this regard was Andrei Svechnikov getting elbowed in the head by Charlie McAvoy and then retaliating by boarding him in the corner. Somehow the referees missed not one but both of the dangerous penalties but send Zdeno Chara and Andrei Svechnikov to the box for roughing after the more serious infractions were missed. After another ‘meh’ start, the Hurricanes seemed to find a higher gear about midway through the second period. It was not even so much that the Canes were better or had a significant advantage as a switch seemed to flip the game in total into random/frenetic mode. The shift seemed to benefit the Hurricanes who scored twice in the second half of the second period. First, Andrei Svechnikov deftly retrieved a puck, avoided being separated from it and made a spinning pass across the Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen made no mistake finishing on the power play. Then the Hurricanes scored again with Martin Necas found Andrei Svechnikov between the circles. Svechnikov finished to give the Hurricanes a one-goal lead. Just when things seemed to be turning to the Hurricanes’ favor, Teravainen was whistled for an interference penalty that saw Torey Krug unaware and tripped up by Teravainen who was mostly just holding his ground and/or trying to avoid a high stick. Brad Marchand scored with five seconds remaining in the period to tie the game at 2-2 and potentially suck any positive energy out of the Canes.
The front part of the third period featured more officiating controversy. The Hurricanes put the puck in the net early in the third period only to have it waived off when Teravainen was pushed into goalie Tuuka Rask. As I said on Twitter, I was actually okay with this call. Though Teravainen was pushed in, Rask was impeded in the crease. I would have called it incidental contact and waived off the goal too. But piled on top of what had come before, it seemed like another shot at the Canes. But the Hurricanes killed off the penalty for the failed challenge and kept pushing. Dougie Hamilton scored on a Martin Necas feed 8:30 into the third period to stake the Hurricanes to a 3-2 lead. The remainder of the game continued to be frenetic and saw the Bruins push, but James Reimer had answers and the Canes survived for a 3-2 win.
The top stories of the game for me were the Canes seeming to dictate and thrive in a more frenetic style of play and the resiliency of the team that faced setbacks from the officiating and also the ups and downs of the scoreboard.
Player and other notes
1) The kids are alright
Leading the offense were Svechnikov and Necas. Svechnikov found the on switch for the offense with his heady pass on Teravainen’s goal and then a goal of his own. Necas had the pretty feed on Svechnikov’s goal and also the set up on Hamilton’s game-winner. The young duo was instrumental in the win obviously. Almost as cool was the two of them at the post-game press conference looking like college kids who just arrived in the area for the start of fall classes.
2) James Reimer
Reimer was great again. The game was a challenging one in net. There were stretches where the Bruins were outplaying the Canes and also stretches where the play just seemed haphazard. The result was a good number of battles around the crease with the puck in the neighborhood. But James Reimer had the answer when needed and finished the game with his second win of the 2020 NHL Playoffs and 33 saves on 35 shots.
3) Rod Brind’Amour
Brind’Amour deservedly gets credit for his ability to relate to, motivate and coach players. But I think he can sometimes his ability to make tactical decisions can be underrated. He continues to have an incredibly good record managing goalie starts. And on Thursday, he pulled some levers to help get the Canes going. With Boston having last change as the home team, the Bruins were able to hold the Canes top-heavy first line in check in game one. On Thursday, Brind’Amour separated Svechnikov from the line. The move paid dividends as Svechnkov’s new line figured into both even strength goals.
4) Dougie Hamilton
Before this game, I was clamoring for the Hurricanes to find more sources for offense. On Thursday, Dougie Hamilton chipped in a huge game-winning goal. Here is hoping that triggers a run similar to what he did in the first half of the 2019-20 season.
With all of the forward lines having earned Brind’Amour’s trust, he is mostly rolling four lines right now when not interrupted by special teams play. On Thursday, low ice time for the forwards was Warren Foegele at 10:52 and high ice time was Sebastian Aho at 18:53 with a number of players clustered pretty close together in the middle. Especially if the Hurricanes can receive some scoring from each line, that bodes well for staying reasonably fresh over a long series with two sets of back-to-backs.
Next up is another matinee at 12pm on Saturday with the Hurricanes having the home team advantage of last change on face-offs.