BOSTON — The Carolina Hurricanes had to wait five days to start the Eastern Conference Final. They looked more rested than rusty.
The red-hot Boston power play, however, also picked up right where it left off.
The Bruins scored twice with the NHL playoffs’ No. 1 power play in the first three minutes of the third period, erasing a one-goal deficit and turning it into a lead in their 5-2 win in front of a sellout crowd of 17,565 Thursday in Game 1 at TD Garden.
“You take a penalty, you gotta kill ’em,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said after the loss, which snapped Carolina’s six-game winning streak and put his team in a 1-0 hole with Game 2 set for Sunday at 3 p.m.
With Hurricanes center Jordan Staal in the box for boarding, the Bruins tied the game on a goal by Marcus Johnasson at 2:26 of the third. Carolina defenseman Dougie Hamilton then took the first of consecutive penalties just 15 seconds later, and Patrice Bergeron converted on a broken play at 2:54 to give Boston the lead, 3-2, at 2:54.
“I just watched both of them,” Hamilton said of the two calls against him. “I didn’t agree with either. So there’s not much else to say. The game is over now, nothing you can do about it now.”
The Hurricanes had seized control in the second period, piling up 15 shots and getting the go-ahead goal from the fourth line.
Just before the midway point of the game, Hurricanes center Greg McKegg took a pass from Jordan Martinook and rushed up the left wing, turned the corner on Boston’s David Krejci and chipped the puck past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (29 saves) before being pushed into the goal.
The play was quickly reviewed, but the good goal called on the ice stood and gave Carolina a 2-1 lead at 9:18 of the second.
“I didn’t really see where it went, and it just kind of got pushed on, and that was that,” McKegg said of his goal. “I saw the bench, and they said it was in, so I was pretty sure it was going to be a goal because I didn’t try to run into him. I got pushed from behind.”
The Hurricanes had been 3-0 in the postseason when ahead going into the final period. That’s when Boston’s power play — and some questionable officiating — struck.
“There were penalties both ways, I thought,” Brind’Amour said. “Some were called and not called. So, I mean, there’s point in getting into the officiating.”
The Bruins added an empty-net goal by Charlie Coyle with 2:13 left, then delivered a final blow when Chris Wagner scored on a breakaway just 11 seconds later to make it a three-goal lead.
“Heading into the third period, a 2-1 game and we’re up and we haven’t really played our best hockey,” McKegg said. “We just got to lock it down better and get back at it on Sunday.”
Carolina will also be looking for a better start, as the Bruins tilted the ice early Thursday and got on the board first.
A turnover by Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk led to a Boston rush, and Steve Kampfer — playing for Charlie McAvoy, who was suspended one game after his hit on Columbus’ Josh Anderson in the Bruins’ Game 6 clinching win — jumped into the slot and fired a shot past Petr Mrazek (23 saves) — back in the crease after missing part of Game 3 and all of Game 4 against the Islanders — to make it 1-0 just 2:55 into the game.
The Hurricanes answered quickly.
Just three seconds after Boston’s Sean Kuraly was called for roughing, Carolina won the ensuing faceoff and Sebastian Aho redirected an Andrei Svechnikov pass to tie the game just 47 seconds after the Bruins had opened the scoring.
Carolina didn’t convert on its other two power play chances, and the Hurricanes took the game’s final four penalties in the game’s last 33 minutes.
“Unfortunately it’s tough because that game was there for us” Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said of the Game 1 loss.
“We didn’t get to what we wanted to get to. … Just a little off,” Williams added. “When you’re a little off, you’re going to lose.”
Notes: Micheal Ferland played for the first time since Game 3 of the Washington series, logging 11:02 of ice time, earning a secondary assist on McKegg’s goal and taking one minor penalty. … Lucas Wallmark won 11 of 15 faceoffs. … Aho has scored in three straight games, with five total points in that stretch. … Boston captain Zdeno Chara was injured late in the first period after blocking an Aho shot, but returned for the second and played 19:24.