For a while on Monday night, it looked like the Bruins were ready to put their regular-season-Carolina woes behind them and morph into Playoff Mode.
A solid first period (really, first 35 minutes) was undone by two quick goals-against late in the second, then a calamity of errors in the third put the game out of reach.
Carolina skated to a convincing (on the scoreboard, at least) 5-1 win in Game 1 in Raleigh.
To the highlights!
After a good start to the game, you knew it was going to be a wacky bounce, right? Seth Jarvis deflects a toss on net past Linus Ullmark to make it 1-0 Carolina late in the second.
Just over two minutes later, Nino Niederreiter fires a shot through traffic that beats Ullmark to make it 2-0 Carolina.
The Bruins were going down swinging - Taylor Hall cashed in on a great all-around shift from the Bruins to make it 2-1 Carolina early in the third.
Taylor Hall from the high slot. Good work down low by McAvoy and Haula.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 3, 2022
2-1 game. pic.twitter.com/fq9I63QVH9
Hall, who was excellent all night, nearly tied the game a couple minutes later, shortly before the wheels fell off.
Taylor Hall and this second line is feeling it. pic.twitter.com/3vM8tvM4TZ— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 3, 2022
A brutal pinch by Matt Grzelcyk leads to a 2-on-1 the other way, and Teuvo Teravainen doesn’t miss. 3-1 Carolina.
The Bruins didn’t have much push-back left after that, other than one of the feeblest power play attempts of all time a few minutes later.
With the game ambling toward a Carolina win late in the third, Ullmark gives up a terrible goal to Vincent Trocheck to make it 4-1 Carolina.
Andrei Svechnikov would add an empty netter to make it a solid five for Carolina.
- It sounds pie-in-the-sky optimist to say this, but the game felt, for long stretches, closer than the final score indicates. Carolina was certainly the better team, but I didn’t think this was a blowout in the true sense of the word. Progress?
- It’s hard to overstate how back-breaking that pinch by Grzelcyk was. You can question the lack of forward coverage too, sure — but ultimately, it’s the defenseman’s decision. The Bruins had just scored, and even more recently come within half an inch of tying it. Momentum was on their side. There were 14 minutes left. 14!!! Why take that risk in that situation? It’s not like the pinch was to create a glittering chance either, it just would have resulted in possession. Hindsight is 20/20, sure, but...man. That’s a tough pill to swallow.
- We can have the “goalie needs to make a big save” conversation, but I’m not sure which one you want Ullmark to have back (other than the fourth, but that was really of little consequence at that point). The first was a great deflection. Maybe the second could have been picked up through traffic? No one was saving the third.
- On the other end, the Bruins did their best to test Antti Raanta, but he was good when called upon. The save on the Tomas Nosek slot attempt comes to mind.
- The power play the Bruins had in the third period was the perfect summary of their last 30-odd attempts. Turnovers at the blue line. No attempts. Blind backhand passes across the entire zone. It was an act of mercy to see that power play end.
- As mentioned above, Hall was excellent tonight. He was easily the Bruins’ most engaged forward, and it wasn’t really close. He took over the game early in the third period, before...well, you know the rest.
- Opposite end: it was a disappointing quiet game from Brad Marchand, who you’d normally expect to turn up his game in the playoffs. He was credited with three shots on goal, but I’m not sure I remember any of them.
- While the Trocheck goal was horrible, I have a hard time believing it creates a true goalie controversy for Bruce Cassidy. If Ullmark had allowed other softies, I’d buy into it. But other than that goal, he was fine, and was better than Jeremy Swayman down the stretch. It’d be a lot to ask of Swayman to toss him in for Game 2 and hope for the best.
- Having said that, the Bruins need to change SOMETHING for Game 2. Different power play units, different lines, a sub...something. Losing Game 1 on the road, really, is fine — saying “let’s do it again the exact same way” isn’t.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Raleigh!