1. Getting to Their Game
The Hurricanes were not satisfied with the results of Games 1 and 2, of course, but they weren't exactly thrilled with the process, either. They felt like they didn't consistently get to their game in the first contest, and Game 2 was a complete wash.
Head coach Rod Brind'Amour said this morning, "We want to end this game tonight, win or lose, and say, 'That was our game.'"
That much was evident in Game 3, far and away the best game the Hurricanes have played in this series, even if that was somewhat of a low bar to clear.
But the Canes still fell just short and now find themselves in a 3-0 series deficit.
Captain Justin Williams, the gray hairs slowly but methodically conquering his playoff beard, didn't have to say much to capture the disappointment.
Video: Williams: "We're not going to go away quietly"
"I think at this point it's written all over my face right now," he said. "It was more of how we wanted to play, absolutely. It just didn't happen for us. That stinks. That's the way it goes sometimes, but we're not going to go away quietly."
"We said before the game that we wanted to at least show everybody what we were about because we hadn't done that for two games, really. I think we can feel good about the fact that we at least gave them a game," Brind'Amour said. "We battled hard. We came out exactly how we wanted to. It just didn't work out. I'm proud of the way we played the game."
2. Return of the Mac
Petr Mrazek was not the reason the Hurricanes weren't victorious in either game in Boston. It was a complete team malfunction.
And so, it's not a reflection on Mrazek's play that Brind'Amour and his staff opted to turn to Curtis McElhinney in net in Game 3. It was instead a tactic to spark a team that needed something - and it worked, even if the result didn't pan out.
"I think he's just trying to mix things up a little bit," McElhinney said when asked about Brind'Amour's decision. "I thought we responded pretty well with a great first."
Video: McElhinney:"It's tough to sit there at the other end"
"Just a change, you know? We've been happy with both guys, so it's not really that hard of a decision. We rotated all year," Brind'Amour explained. "Mac was great. He gave us a chance tonight. That's all you can ask. The other guy was pretty special down at the other end. It was a good battle there."
Tuukka Rask was again a difference-maker for the Bruins, but McElhinney, who said he found out on Monday that he would start Game 3, did his part in the crease for the Hurricanes, turning away 29 of Boston's 31 shots. McElhinney has stopped 100 of the 106 shots he's seen this postseason and owns a 1.70 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.
"He played well and gave us a great chance to win the game. That's what you ask," Justin Faulk said. "We just didn't get enough for him."
3. A Dominant First Period …
Whether it was a response to the first two games of the series, whether it was riding the wave of infectious energy from the rambunctious crowd at PNC Arena, whether it was a spark provided by the swap in net, the Hurricanes came out in the first period of Game 3 with their finest 20 minutes of the series.
The Canes did everything they wanted to do - a quick, aggressive, relentless forecheck, an onslaught of shots on net, a smothering defense. Everything, of course, except score.
"That's the start we wanted," Faulk said. "Was [not scoring] deflating? We didn't seem deflated. I'm sure maybe guys were thinking that you wish you'd get one, and anyone wishes they would have got one there when you've got the pressure going, making it tough on [Rask] and getting some chances."
Video: BOS@CAR, Gm3: Brind'Amour talks about dropping Game 3
"We probably deserved a little better, but, hey, that's the way it is," Williams said. "We had a lot of chances, and [Rask] made a lot of great saves."
Fueled by four power play opportunities, the Hurricanes put 20 shots on the board in the first period - the most in a single playoff period since they put 22 on Martin Brodeur on April 21, 2009 - to the Bruins' svelte six, but the game was 0-0 heading into the intermission.
"You need to get something out of that period, obviously. Not getting anything is a little bit demoralizing, but it felt fine," Brind'Amour said. "You've got to come away with something with all that we had going on in the first."
4. … But the Power Play
But, the power play.
In the first period alone, the Hurricanes had four cracks at the power play, including 46 seconds of 5-on-3 time.
They had looks. They had shots. In fact, 12 of the Canes' 20 first-period shots came on the power play. But Rask had all the answers.
"We had a ton of good chances," Brind'Amour said. "You've got to score on those. 5-on-3, you've got to score. Playoff, especially, you don't get that many good looks in the game. That's one where you've got to find the back of the net."
Video: Calvin de Haan: "At a loss for words"
The Hurricanes came up empty on a fifth power play in the third period while trailing 2-1. The team's power play is now a putrid 5-for-50 (10 percent) in the postseason. Boston, meanwhile, tallied once on five power play chances, and they're humming along at a 31.9 percent clip (15-for-47) in the playoffs.
"Once again, nothing to show for it," Faulk said.
5. Flipping the Script
Boston flipped the script on the Hurricanes in the second period, outshooting the team 18-6 and driving play.
The difference? The Bruins had two goals to show for it. Chris Wagner opened the scoring at the 1:21 mark of the second period before Brad Marchand doubled his team's lead about five minutes later on the power play, a backhander that bounced in off the glove of Calvin de Haan.
"We had a good first. We just weren't able to carry it over to the second," Faulk said. "They did the same thing to us during the second period. Kind of flipped it around."
The Hurricanes got on the board later in the period when de Haan scorched a slap shot through Rask, but that's as close as they'd come.
Video: BOS@CAR, Gm3: de Haan cranks home heavy slap shot
"They got the goals, and then they shut us down pretty good," Williams said.
The Hurricanes will attempt to stave off a series sweep on in Game 4 on Thursday.
"You're going to hear the same old stuff you hear from every coach over the last 100 years," Brind'Amour said. "It won't be anything special. 'One game at a time,' da-da-da-da, but it's true. We're not going to beat them four times the next game. We've got to try to win that one period and see what happens. It's tough right now. I told the guys this sucks. There's no way around it. Not going to sugarcoat it. We got kicked in the you know where, and it's going to hurt for a while. We'll come in tomorrow, pick the pieces up, give our best effort and see what happens."