GOLD STAR: It’s all Tuukka Rask all the time right now. The Bruins goaltender stopped 20 shots in the first period when the Bruins were floundering and getting stormed by the Hurricanes and was perhaps at his best on an early Canes power play when he stopped four shots in succession, including bids by Michael Ferland and Justin Williams around the front of the net.
In all, he stopped 35 of 36 shots with just a single soft goal allowed in the second period through the five-hole. Still, that’s obviously more than okay when he was so good the rest of the game and so good for this entire postseason run. He is far and away the favorite for the Conn Smythe should the Bruins win the Stanley Cup this season at this point. Who could have guessed that at the beginning of the season?
BLACK EYE: What the hell was Justin Williams doing in the first period when he was running around taking dumb penalties while going after Torey Krug? He ended up with one half of matching penalties when the two players were punching each other in the head, and then he earned holding the stick and elbowing minors later on when he continued to take runs at the undersized defenseman.
Certainly, he had a pretty good game with five shots on net and some chances while playing an energetic game, but he also played a curiously selfish game in the early moments taking all those penalties when the Hurricanes should have been fully focused on scoring. He’s made some strange choices in this series as the Canes captain.
TURNING POINT: It was very clearly the second-period goal from the fourth line after the Bruins had weathered the storm in the first period. After getting outshot 20-6 in the first and holding strong against the Carolina onslaught, the B’s fourth line had a good, old-fashioned, hard-working shift that ended with Joakim Nordstrom feeding Chris Wagner at the net for a redirection goal.
It was Wagner’s second goal of the playoffs and really acted as a gut punch to a Hurricanes team that was absolutely kicking themselves after not scoring in the opening 20 minutes. Eventually, the Bruins would add a Brad Marchand goal to be the margin of difference in the victory, but it was the B’s depth once again coming through in this series against the Hurricanes.
HONORABLE MENTION: Give it to Wagner, who scored the redirection in front in the second period to get the offensive ball rolling. Then he blocked a Justin Faulk rocket from the point with his right arm late in the third period while protecting a one-goal lead and looked like he might have wound up with a significant injury in the process. Wagner finished with the goal and three hits in 6:56 of ice time, but was hurt stepping in front of the shot in a playoff sacrifice for the team’s greater good. The hope is that Wagner is going to be okay, but the B’s also have Noel Acciari waiting in the wings if he’s not.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – The current winning streak for the Bruins in the playoffs, which is the most consecutive wins for Boston in the postseason since way back in 1978.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Right now he’s in the zone, to be honest with you. He’s been amazing. He’s a huge reason why we’re here right now.” –Patrice Bergeron, on the postseason run that Tuukka Rask continues to be on with the Bruins.