Considering the successful reunion of David Pastrnak with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in Friday’s Game 3, it was no surprise to see Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy turn once again to his big three on Sunday as the home team attempted to even up their first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Cassidy’s decision was a good one, with the Bruins’ top trio combining for 10 points among them in Sunday’s 5-2 Game 4 victory. That brought their two-game cumulative tally to 16 after their success Friday night to propel Boston back into this series.
Together, the trio was outstanding — a throwback to past post-season success — but no single player had a bigger impact on the outcome of this one than Marchand.
He was in his element — on the scoresheet (to the tune of two goals and three helpers) as well as under the skin of his opponents.
What looked like a lopsided series controlled by Carolina just a few days ago is now a best-of-three with momentum favouring the Spoked B.
Here’s what else happened during Sunday’s pair of afternoon games:
HURRICANES UNRAVEL IN LOSING EFFORT
Optimism was in short supply in Boston pregame when it was announced the Bruins would be without star defenceman Charlie McAvoy after he was placed in COVID protocol. And yet despite the loss of the their top two D-men (Hampus Lindholm missed his second straight game due to injury), the Bruins were by far the better team in this one.
Things started out well enough for the visiting squad. As they have all series so far, the Hurricanes opened the scoring on Sunday. They started off the second frame with promise as well, taking a 2-1 lead just 33 seconds in.
And then things fell apart.
Carolina took six penalties in the second period, including four in the final seven minutes of the frame, playing an undisciplined game and letting their emotions take control. By the time Hurricanes defenceman Tony DeAngelo hurled his stick across the ice in an irrational attempt to stop a Marchand empty-netter, the team looked completely lost and defeated — not to mention a far cry from the club that put up a 2-0 series lead just a few days earlier.
BRIND’AMOUR CONFOUNDED BY CONTROVERSIAL NON-CALL
What’s this? A controversial goal resulting in an unsuccessful coach’s challenge for goalie interference that totally swung the momentum of the game? In this post-season? Couldn’t be.
Late in the second period of what was a 2-1 game favouring Carolina, Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk snuck the puck past Antti Raanta to tie things up. The goal came after Raanta had initially made a save, but momentarily lost track of the puck as it sat between his pads. DeBrusk sought it out, coming around the side of the net and poking his stick through, making contact with Raanta’s pad in the process. Here’s how it all went down:
The call on the ice was a goal, and that was upheld following head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s challenge.
Brad Marchand scored a power-play goal 44 seconds into the third during a 5-on-3 advantage after Sebastian Aho added insult to injury with a high-sticking penalty when Carolina was already shorthanded from the unsuccessful challenge.
Brind’Amour was clearly confounded by the call, telling reporters post-game he was certain the goal would not count.
“I would’ve bet my life on that one,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s tough. It’s clearly — especially the view that we saw after — it’s in between his pads, loose, I’m all good with that, but [DeBrusk] came from the side, pushes his pad, squirts the puck out, taps it in.”
Brind’Amour said it would have been different had the goal-scorer come from the front to play the puck. The puck, after all, was loose. The issue was how, and from where, DeBrusk made contact.
“You can’t play the puck when it’s in between his legs from the side and knock the goalie sideways,” he said, later adding that the Bruins are “too good a team to just give ’em goals.”
BINNINGTON’S BACK IN THE WIN COLUMN
The Bruins weren’t the only team to go back to their championship roots enroute to tying up their series on Sunday afternoon.
After bolting out of the gates in this Round 1 matchup, the Blues lost back-to-back games in lopsided fashion and risked leaving St. Louis on the brink of elimination on Sunday. Blues head coach Craig Berube switched up his lineup, including making a goalie change, which ultimately gave the home team the jolt it needed.
Binnington, who got his first start of these playoffs after Ville Husso started the first three games, saved 28 of 30 shots in the 5-2 win, registering his first post-season victory since Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Since that victory, the 28-year-old went 0-for-9 in playoff starts over the course of two first-round exits.
The Blues also saw vintage performances from David Perron — he had two goals Sunday, bringing him to four through four games so far — and Ryan O’Reilly, whose goal and two assists gave his mom, Bonnie O’Reilly, a lot to celebrate during this Mother’s Day matinee.
The highlight of the night in St. Louis, though (aside from all the Bonnie celebration GIFs, of course!) belongs to Jordan Kyrou, whose second goal of the night was a beauty:
The series now heads back to Minnesota all tied up at 2-2, with Game 5 set for Tuesday night.
BLUES’ BANGED-UP BLUE LINE = MARATHON MINUTES FOR FAULK, PARAYKO
St. Louis won the game, but lost another defenceman in the process as Marco Scandella, who wasn’t 100 per cent heading into this one, played just 1:34 on Sunday before being ruled out for the rest of the game.
This, after the Blues are already without Torey Krug, Nick Leddy, and Robert Bortuzzo. Scott Perunovich was inserted back into the lineup, but this is still a story to watch as the series goes on. Justin Faulk (31:10) and Colton Parayko (30:37) played the bulk of this one, with Berube needing some creativity in order to keep the rotations moving.