The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t flinch after losing yet another goaltender. Instead, they responded with a physical and even confrontational edge against a team that has twice bullied them out of recent NHL playoffs.
And now, they’re up 2-0 on the Boston Bruins in their first-round series.
Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter each scored twice and the Hurricanes overcame the early loss of goalie Antti Raanta to beat the Bruins 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Jesper Fast had the game’s first goal for Carolina in another strong offensive showing to start this series. Rookie goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov came on in relief of Raanta to finish with 30 saves.
Perhaps just as importantly, the Hurricanes looked ready for a fight at every moment as the Bruins racking up penalties and time in the box while facing yet another uphill climb.
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The Carolina Hurricanes celebrate a goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
“We’re not going to get pushed around, I guarantee you that,” said Carolina defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who had three assists.
Game 3 is Friday night in Boston.
This game quickly went from competitive to feisty and downright ornery in quick fashion — namely after Boston’s David Pastrnak knocked Raanta from the game midway through the first period when he struck the goaltender in the head with a gloved hand as he tried to skate past him.
Already down injured No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen to start the playoffs, Carolina turned to Kochetkov as Raanta exited while bleeding from an apparent mouth injury.
After Raanta’s exit, the teams constantly traded words and hits, along with repeatedly tussling after the whistle. Notably, there was the jarring shoulder-to-chest blast by Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov that leveled Hampus Lindholm and left him wobbly as he was helped to the locker room late in the second.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said he thought Svechnikov’s hit was “on time certainly but it looked high.” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour was more irritated by Pastrnak’s hit on Raanta.
“You never want to see guys get hurt,” Brind’Amour said. “I don’t like seeing our goalie get taken out either. But one was legal, one was not, if you really want to break it down.”
Patrice Bergeron scored both of Boston’s goals, the first on a loose rebound in the second and then another on a redirection near the crease in the third. Linus Ullmark surrendered four goals for the second straight game and finished with 29 saves.
“We need a timely save, there’s no doubt about it,” Cassidy said. “We got better. We’re closer to scoring, we scored a couple. I thought (Kochetkov) did a really good job. We could’ve had more than two.”
Fittingly, the game ended with the teams being separated once more after the whistle.
“There was not a dull moment, that’s for sure,” Brind’Amour said.
Among the post-whistle exchanges was one between Kotchetkov and Boston’s Brad Marchand, who shoved Kochetkov from behind as he tried to play a puck.
The goaltender objected with a jab of his stick, then his own shove after the play, only to see Marchand immediately swing his stick and pop Kochetkov in the right arm. Both ended up drawing a slashing penalty, part of a busy night in the box for the Bruins with 13 penalties for 28 minutes.
“You want to play between the whistles,” Bergeron said. “You want to play physical and hard. But you want to make sure it’s the right way because obviously tonight they scored some goals on the power play and it hurt us, basically.”
Raanta had 35 saves in his first career playoff start in Game 1 and was hurt after he had cleared the puck. Cassidy called it a “a freak play.”
“His foot caught his pad, he’s trying to block the clear but get out of the way,” Cassidy said. “I don’t think there was any intent there at all.”
Brind’Amour didn’t seem to see it that way. Asked afterward whether he thought the Bruins were intentionally targeting his goaltenders, he said: “Well, what do you think? Can’t get any more obvious.”
Neither team had updates after the game on the status of Raanta or Lindholm.
“He didn’t see me,” Svechnikov said, adding: “Obviously I feel bad and sorry for him.”
Carolina got offensive production from its defensemen beyond DeAngelo.
Jaccob Slavin also assisted on Carolina’s first two goals. He earned style points, too, for jumping out of the way of Aho’s redirection tip that sent the puck between Slavin’s legs before beating Ullmark at 15:30 of the first.
Carolina has won all five meetings this season by a combined score of 26-4. It was 16-1 in the three regular-season meetings, and 5-1 in Game 1 here.