Hurricanes’ penalty box parade dooms them in Game 4 loss

Boston evened the series at 2-2 with a 5-2 win on Mother's Day

Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo and Bruins forward Curtis Lazar tangle during Game 4 of their first round playoff series Sunday in Boston. The Bruins won 5-2. (Steven Senne / AP Photo)

BOSTON — On Mother’s Day, the Hurricanes had a performance only dear old mom could love.

When Carolina scored on the first shift of the second period to take a one-goal lead, it felt like it was ready to seize control of its first round series with the Bruins.


Six penalties later — including a double-minor and two 5-on-3s — the Hurricanes were down a goal and on their way to a 5-2 Game 4 loss, heading back to Raleigh even in the series after the Bruins stood firm on home ice.

“We took too many,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the penalties. “I don’t know what they ended up, how many. It just felt like the whole game we were shorthanded. Those top guys are as elite as they come. You just can’t give them those looks.”

Pick your moment for where things went wrong for the Hurricanes. Was it the penalty Carolina took just 26 seconds after taking the lead at the start of the second period? The failed goaltender interference challenge? A shorthanded breakaway opportunity that was shot high?

Probably a little bit of everything, including the opponent.

“They’re a good team,” Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck said. “We’re both fighting for a Stanley Cup. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We didn’t come in here thinking they were going to roll over and let us when these next two games.”

The Hurricanes had an early “here we go again” moment after scoring first only to let the Bruins tie it, but captain Jordan Staal made sure he got his team off on the right foot in the second period.

His line got to work in the Boston zone, cycling the puck behind the net until Nino Niederreiter backhanded a pass to the captain for his first goal of the postseason and a 2-1 lead 33 seconds into the middle frame.

But it was one step forward followed by several steps back for Carolina.

Andrei Svechnikov was called for interference on a retaliatory hit 26 seconds later, starting an unfathomable parade to the penalty box for the Hurricanes.

“We’ve got to take less penalties, that’s for sure,” Svechnikov said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re just kind of dominating them, and we’ve just got to play 5-on-5. That’s all.”

The Hurricanes did little of that in the second period, with Svechnikov’s penalty being just the starting point.

It was the first of six straight infractions totaling 14 penalty minutes called on Carolina in the second period, and Boston capitalized when Jake DeBrusk jammed at Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta and then punched the puck in to tie the game at 2-2 with 1:16 left in the frame.

The Hurricanes, remembering that a Nino Niederreiter goal in Game 1 was disallowed under similar circumstances, challenged for goaltender interference. The call didn’t go Carolina’s way again.

“I would’ve bet my life on that one,” Brind’Amour said of challenging the DeBrusk goal. “It’s tough. … It’s frustrating because it almost feels like we’re living this again from four years ago when we had an issue.”

Brind’Amour was careful not to make comments like the ones from that year that led to a $25,000, but the failed challenge also meant Boston got another power play since the Hurricanes’ bench was cited for delay of game.x

Carolina had a chance to reclaim momentum and the lead when Trocheck took off on a shorthanded breakaway in the final minute of the middle frame, but his wrist shot on Boston goalie Jeremy Swayman (24 saves) sailed high.

Fifty-one seconds later, Sebastian Aho high-sticked Patrice Bergeron while trying to kill the penalty, giving the Bruins their second 5-on-3 of the period.

Boston used the fresh ice at the start of the third to take their first lead at 3-2 when Brad Marchand picked a corner on Raanta (23 saves) just 44 seconds into the period.

“It just takes a lot of out of out of guys who are killing the penalties,” Raanta said. “Even if you can kill the penalties, you will struggle getting back to that 5-on-5 game.”

And they did. Boston’s top line did more damage just under five minutes later when Pastrnak slipped away from Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei on a set faceoff play to double the lead to 4-2 at 5:41.

All that was left for the Hurricanes was desperation and frustration.

Defenseman Tony DeAngelo tangled with both Marchand and Curtis Lazar, taking an unnecessary cross-checking penalty on Lazar at the midway point of the third period and throwing his stick in disgust toward Marchand as the Bruins forward capped off a five-point night and the win with an empty-net goal.

“I love Tony’s game,” Staal said. “He’s obviously a competitive guy that wants to win, and he’ll do whatever it takes. He’s been good for us all year long, and he’ll continue to do that.”

Carolina will need to rediscover its game Tuesday in Raleigh for Game 5, with a return date to Boston on Thursday already confirmed. It’s similar to what the Hurricanes faced against the Predators last season when they won the first two games at home before losing back-to-back double-overtime games in Nashville. Carolina won the next two to close out the series.

“We’ve just got to keep our heads up,” Svechnikov said. “We’re going to be fine. We’ve been in this situation last year, so we know what to do.”

Now the Hurricanes just need to do it.

“It starts over now. We just regroup,” Brind’Amour said. “You should have a little emotion right now and it should hurt and it should bother you. And then tomorrow you start fresh and you’re excited we’ve got another game to play.”

Notes: The Bruins played without Charlie McAvoy, who was placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol before the game. That left Boston without both of their top pairing defensemen from Game 1 — Hampus Lindholm remained out after being knocked out of Wednesday’s Game 2 on a hit by Svechnikov.