No one has been able to figure out how to win on the road in this series. Boston has given itself one more chance to try.
The Bruins checked a lot of the boxes they needed to Thursday night at TD Garden, defeating the Hurricanes 5-2 and forcing a decisive Game 7 in Raleigh on Saturday (4:30 p.m. on NESN and ESPN).
They got timely saves from Jeremy Swayman, who finished with 23 saves on 25 shots. They finally scored the first goal of the game, for the first time all series. They extended the lead, they won the special teams battle, and they got some 5-on-5 scoring from lines other than the first.
After a scoreless first period, the Bruins opened the scoring for the first time all series. Connor Clifton made a nice stretch pass through the neutral zone and Brad Marchand did the rest. Marchand raced down the right wing and picked his spot over Antti Raanta’s shoulder with a great shot for his fourth goal and 10th point of the series.
Much of the rest of the second period was marked by excellent work from the Bruins’ penalty kill. They killed off three straight Carolina power plays, including 54 seconds of a 5-on-3. Derek Forbort and Brandon Carlo both turned in monster shifts, staying on for the entire 5-on-3 and some of the 5-on-4, and both blocking multiple shots. Forbort also had a couple key clears.
The Bruins’ own first power play was negated by an Erik Haula high stick, but their second man advantage gave them a 2-0 lead late in the second period. Hampus Lindholm floated a nice pass to Marchand, who then set up David Pastrnak for a one-timer. That shot was blocked, but it bounced right to Charlie Coyle in front for the finish.
The Hurricanes cut the lead to one 3:24 into the third, but the Bruins responded a few minutes later to make it a two-goal game again thanks to back-to-back great shifts from their top two lines. In between, Swayman made a huge save on Martin Necas alone in front.
After the first line cycled around the offensive zone, Jake DeBrusk almost single-handedly kept the puck in the zone while the rest of the Bruins changed off. The second line came on, kept the pressure on, and then Charlie McAvoy made a beautiful slap pass to Haula in the slot for the redirect goal. It was Haula’s first goal of the series, and an important one for the reunited Hall-Haula-Pastrnak line.
A few minutes later, it was the fourth line and third pairing’s turn to get rewarded for a yeoman’s shift. After nearly scoring on a mad scramble in front, Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar kept the possession alive. Eventually the puck came to Forbort at the point, and he wristed a shot that deflected off a Carolina stick and past Raanta. Lazar added another for that group with an empty-netter.
For the first time since Game 1, the Bruins didn’t give up a goal in the first period. The Hurricanes had chances, but Swayman made the early saves Boston needed. Among his highlights were a nice blocker save on a Tony DeAngelo chance from the high slot and a reactionary kick save on an Ian Cole shot from the point that got tipped.
Lindholm made his presence felt early on in his return from an upper-body injury. He made a great play to break up a Carolina 2-on-1 -- a play that was followed by McAvoy laying out Sebastian Aho in a head-on collision. Lindholm also set up two good chances on the rush, one to Coyle that was saved and one to Nosek that drew a penalty. He wound up leading all players in ice time for the game.