By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
As if a 15-hour delay on Game 1 between the Bruins and Hurricanes wasn’t enough, the first-round meeting between the sides required double-overtime in its opening contest on Wednesday afternoon.
And it was Patrice Bergeron who sealed the deal on a 4-3 win, and 1-0 series lead, at the 1:13 mark of the fifth period.
This was as complete an effort from this, too.
It began in the defensive end with a big Brandon Carlo block, and with Brad Marchand leading the rush through the neutral zone. With Carlo up and setting a pick, Marchand fed Pastrnak for a blast through the middle, where No. 88 dished it off to Bergeron for a top-shelf snipe that Petr Mrazek had no chance of stopping.
For Bergeron, it was his first goal of the postseason, and the 41st of his postseason career.
“It looked beautiful from here,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “The fresher the ice, the easier to make those plays. They were ready to go. That’s the beauty of that line: they can all make good plays and they can all finish.”
Almost four hours prior to the walkoff, this game began with a familiar (and slightly alarming) trend for the Black and Gold, as Carolina opened the game’s scoring on a Joel Edmundson blast through Tuukka Rask at the 13:02 mark of the opening period.
The sequence began with what was a simply unacceptable play just over the Boston blue line, too, with Warren Foegele outworking three Bruins for a loose puck, and with the Bruins twice allowing centering passes for Edmundson’s tally.
But the Bruins would counter before the end of the first, with David Pastrnak finishing off a set play that began with a Patrice Bergeron faceoff win and Brad Marchand retrieval, and was capped by Pastrnak’s finish through a wide-open cage.
And for the first time since touching down in Toronto, the Bruins found themselves playing with a lead thanks to a Charlie Coyle scored at the 4:38 mark of the middle frame, and with Mrazek protesting all the while.
That led to a challenge from Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour — looking for a hand-pass from the Bruins’ Nick Ritchie or Anders Bjork, or a perhaps missed stoppage with the puck covered by Mrazek for a fraction of a second — but the goal was upheld and the Bruins were playing with the lead.
After 204:38 of play between the round-robin and Game 1, the B’s finally were playing with an advantage.
…It would last all of 21 seconds.
With Pastrnak looking to thread a needle at the attacking blue line, an interception from the Hurricanes’ Brock McGinn sent the 26-year-old in all alone on Rask, and with McGinn making the 33-year-old look foolish for the game-tying goal.
Deadlocked at 2-2 to begin the third period, Boston’s second line with David Krejci between Jake DeBrusk and Ondrej Kase got on the board for the second straight contest, with Kase hooking Krejci up for a finish around a sprawled Mrazek 59 seconds into the period.
But once again, a defensive-zone breakdown and another lost puck battle put the puck on Carolina’s stick in the attacking zone, where Haydn Fleury fired a stoppable shot through Rask to tie things up with 10:11 remaining in the game.
This was easily Rask’s worst goal surrendered of the afternoon, and sent the Bruins and Hurricanes to overtime.
The first overtime was all Boston, too, with the Bruins frequently pinning the Hurricanes in their own end, and earning a power-play opportunity when Coyle was hauled down by Carolina’s Brady Skjei.
But the Bruins would not capitalize on their gift, and it was off to a second overtime, where that aforementioned Bergeron goal made quick work of the Hurricanes.
Boston’s power play continued to struggle, finishing the afternoon 0-for-4 on the man advantage, extending their dry spell to 0-for-13 in four games of record in the Toronto bubble.
The Hurricanes were forced to play this game without captain Justin Williams after the 38-year-old was deemed “unfit to participate.” Williams was in the building to watch the game as a spectator, however, meaning that his absence is likely a short one. (The NHL wouldn’t allow a positive test in the arena.)
Oddly enough, this was actually Boston’s first playoff overtime win against the Hurricanes since Anson Carter scored in double-overtime on Apr. 30, 1999 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
The sides won’t have to wait long to get reacquainted with one another, with Game 2 set for 8 p.m. on Thursday night.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.