Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said he “loved” his team’s effort Thursday. On Saturday following a 3-1 loss in Game 3 of Carolina’s series with the Boston Bruins, his opinion was decidedly different.
“We needed everyone on board, and we had some guys that were weren’t very good today,” Brind’Amour said.
The Hurricanes were unable to mount any sustained attack on the Bruins. and Charlie Coyle had a goal and an assist to lead Boston to the win and a 2-1 lead in the series.
Adding injury to insult was the loss of Andrei Svechnikov, who fell awkwardly while jockeying with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara in front of the Boston net in the third period and seemed to suffer a serious right leg injury.
“Right now, it’s tough because you see a kid go down and that injury looks really bad,” said Brind’Amour, who did not have an update on Svechnikov’s status. “So that’s all it’s going through my head, and I hate it for him.”
The Bruins were without two key players of their own. David Pastrnak missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury, while goalie Tuukka Rask — the starter in the first two games — opted out of the rest of the playoffs on the heels of his comments following Game 2.
It didn’t matter, as Boston grabbed the lead in the second period and never relinquished it.
The first period didn’t produce any goals, but late in the period Carolina defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk was given a four-minute double minor for high sticking.
The Bruins took advantage in the second half of the infraction in the opening seconds of the middle frame. Brad Marchand fired a shot up high off Mrazek, and Coyle batted the rebound out of the air and in just 14 seconds into the second for a power play goal and a 1-0 Boston lead.
Both sides of the special teams battle went the Bruins way, with Carolina’s power play failing in the third period.
With no sustained attack with the man advantage, Carolina gave up a rush to the Bruins. Coyle sent the puck to the front of the net and Sean Kuraly redirected it past Petr Mrazek (36 saves) for a 2-0 Boston lead just 76 seconds into the third period.
“Specialty teams is a huge part of playoffs, and we didn’t win that battle today,” Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “So that’s going to be something that, going forward, we have to win that battle and we have to win individual battles throughout the game.”
The Bruins’ shorthanded goal seemed to demoralize the Hurricanes even further, but they got a boost from an unlikely source.
Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak — pressed into the starting role following Rask’s decision to leave the NHL bubble — played the puck behind his own net during a Hurricanes power play and passed it right at Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter knocked it down with his glove and put in in the empty net to make it 2-1 at 6:30 of the final period.
“I would say the power play today kind of epitomized our game,” Brind’Amour said. “We were just sluggish, not first to anything and not quite doing everything right. So you add all those things up, it was lucky that we were hanging around at the end of the game.”
But Carolina couldn’t muster a significant push at tying the game in the final minutes, and with 31 seconds left Marchand scored an empty-net goal to seal Boston’s win and give the Bruins a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven series. Halak, with 29 saves, earned his first playoff win in two seasons with Boston.
Game 4 will be Monday at 8 p.m. with Carolina the designated home team.
“It’s always about the next game,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s always about tomorrow, if you have one.
“We definitely still have time.”