By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Boston’s second breakaway in the second period didn’t come with the direct daylight Patrice Bergeron & Co. had hoped for.
But with Bergeron hooked by Sebastian Aho on the chance, it did pave the way for the Black and Gold’s best to be exactly that, with a pair of quick-strike power-play tallies that helped the B’s a first-round series win over the Hurricanes, four games to one, in a 2-1 Game 5 final.
On a quest for the equalizing tally, and with some serious trouble landing high-quality looks on Petr Mrazek, the Bruins found their first goal of the afternoon by doing exactly that. Out of the bumper spot in a play created off a clean zone entry, but in position for a strong look, Bergeron flung a shot on Mrazek’s cage, where a pinball put the puck on David Krejci’s stick, and into the Carolina’s net for the game-tying goal, and Krejci’s third of the postseason.
And when Jordan Martinook tried to make Ondrej Kase’s head explode like a watermelon with 50 seconds left in the second period, the B’s power play went back to work. Where yet another on-goal decision from Bergeron made the difference.
Held to the outside, and with the puck on his stick with just five seconds left in the frame, Bergeron (brilliantly) whipped a puck towards a still-standing Mrazek, and saw it bounce off his skate and into the cage for a 2-1 Boston lead.
The goal was one hell of a gut-punch to the Hurricanes, and it lingered into the third period, with Carolina unable to generate high-quality looks on Jaroslav Halak, with just six shots on the Boston netminder in the third period.
Halak, whose lone blemish of the afternoon came on a first-period bomb from Hurricanes defenseman Haydn Fleury, made 23 saves for the victory, and is now 7-2 with a .954 save percentage in potential knockout games since 2010.
Pastrnak returned to action after missing the last three games with the “unfit to participate” designation, and finished with two assists and five shots on goal in 20:28 of action.
With the victory, the Bruins have punched their ticket to the second round of the playoffs for the third straight season.
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.