Boston Bruins

TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 17: Jordan Staal #11 of the Carolina Hurricanes and Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins collide during the third period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 17, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

If Jake DeBrusk’s ice-breaking goal wasn’t enough to get the Bruins jacked on their way to four straight goals in a 4-3 win, Charlie McAvoy’s decision to put things into overdrive with a gigantic hit on Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal certainly did the trick.

“I think we were playing and we were going to push and we were pushing, so obviously it helps us a lot, but I think it really demoralizes the other team,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the hit. “When one of your veteran players, a leader in your room, or really a respected player in this league, takes a good hard clean hit, like I said it affects your group.

Cassidy was bang-on there; McAvoy trucked Staal at the 9:53 mark of the third period. Staal, who threw his stick in frustration, immediately went down the tunnel in pain. And then Connor Clifton scored on Boston’s very next shot, which tied the game at 2-2, and came just 17 seconds after the hit. Then Brad Marchand turned it into a Boston lead 1:30 after that, and DeBrusk finished one through Reimer 2:37 after Marchand’s tally.

There’s momentum and there’s takeovers. This was the latter.

“He’s got a lot of meat over there,” DeBrusk said of McAvoy’s hit. “I didn’t actually see the hit live, but the reaction of the bench. It’s so weird without fans, to be honest with you. Anytime there’s a big play or a good scoring chance, the only way you know is by the bench reaction. Obviously, it was a big hit and it was a good moment for us. That’s when we’re coming hard.”

It was all part of a night that featured a team-leading 24:59 of ice-time for McAvoy, who continues to emerge as a legit top-pairing defender, and with the approach to prove it.

“You have to be able to create your own energy on the bench and going into that third period and obviously you’re down two and the game hadn’t really been in our favor,” McAvoy said. “We had some chances and stuff but we were looking to create some energy and that was kind of the message – that we weren’t out of it. It was opportunity to step up and make a hit, try and separate a man from the puck. We were already playing well. And just to see so many guys step up and make tremendous plays tonight when it really mattered to get us a win was just so awesome to see. It really lifts the spirit of the team.

“The game moves so fast and I just wanted to deliver a clean check and just do my job.”

“It affected us positively and probably them in a negative manner,” Cassidy offered. “They lose a guy that’s a shutdown centerman and had been doing a real good job against Bergy’s line that game, so for us it really helped.”

The Bruins will try to close out the Hurricanes in Game 5 on Wednesday.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 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.