BOSTON — The Boston Bruins won all three games they played against the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden, including Thursday night’s 5-2 Game 6 victory. But Game 7 on Saturday is back in Raleigh, where the Hurricanes have won three games by a combined score of 15-4.
To advance to the second round, the Bruins will have to be their best in a place where they’ve played their worst.
“We’d rather be at home, I’m not going to lie to you,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But we’d play them on Mars if we had to. Right now, we just want to get after it.”
With a loud home crowd behind them, and the chance to dictate line matchups thanks to having the last change, the Bruins rolled through Game 6. Second-period goals by Brad Marchand — his fourth of the playoffs, all of them scored in Boston — and Charlie Coyle gave them the lead after a scoreless first period. Carolina winger Andrei Svechnikov made it interesting with a goal 3:24 into the third period, but goals by Erik Haula, Derek Forbort and Curtis Lazar in an 8:35 span broke the game open.
“Every mistake we made, it felt like they capitalized. We got down, and instead of sticking with it, we tried to do too much,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
For the Hurricanes, it was a missed opportunity to close out a veteran opponent that had eliminated them in two of the previous three postseasons.
“Right now it’s tough. It should feel brutal, to be honest with you,” Brind’Amour said. “But then you wake up and you feel excited that you have an opportunity.”
The Bruins had won both previous games in Boston by reuniting the line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, dubbed by some as “The Perfection Line.” They powered their offense in Games 3 and 4, but Cassidy opted not to reunite them in Game 6, playing Jake DeBrusk on the top line and moving Pastrnak back with Haula and Taylor Hall, with whom he played in the regular season.
“[In Game 3], we had to block out some noise. Sometimes that’s difficult for players, so we went back a formula that we knew had been successful for us at times. We used that line to galvanize the team a little bit,” Cassidy said. “Today was more about how we were successful earlier in the season.”
The move paid off, as both lines produced goals.
The Bruins also got a boost from the return of Hampus Lindholm, whom they acquired at the trade deadline from the Anaheim Ducks. He appeared in the first two games of the series but left Game 2 with an upper-body injury. He made one of the game’s key defensive plays, breaking up a two-on-one by Carolina’s top line in the first period.
“They’ve been confident there at home. It’ll be fun for us to go in there as an underdog. Show them what we got,” Lindholm said. “They’re thinking it’s going to be easy. We just have to keep showing up like we did today.”
Boston’s rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman (23 saves) was solid when he needed to be against the Hurricanes.
“He’s a young kid that doesn’t seem to get phased by this time of year. We’ll see what it looks like going forward for him. Everyone loves a Game 7,” Cassidy said.
That includes the Hurricanes, who return home to their own raucous crowd and the incredible success they’ve had against the Bruins.
“We would have loved to finish the job here. We just have to go home and take care of the job,” defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “Obviously at home you get the last change, which is an advantage. But you still have to come to play.”
For Carolina, it’s about holding serve at home. For the Bruins, it’s about finally doing what they knew they needed to do before the series as the underdog.
“We’ve gotta win one road game. That’s what’s in front of us,” Cassidy said. “We knew that when we started this series. At least one, if we want to advance. So here it is.”