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5 Keys: Bruins at Hurricanes, Game 3

Boston looks to extend Eastern Final lead; Carolina 5-0 at home in playoffs

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer



Boston leads best-of-7 series 2-0

The Carolina Hurricanes are hoping a return home will help them get back in the Eastern Conference Final when they play Game 3 against the Boston Bruins at PNC Arena on Tuesday.

Carolina is 5-0 at home in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boston is 4-2 on the road and has won five consecutive playoff games.

The Bruins won the first two games of the series at TD Garden by a combined 11-4, including 6-2 in Game 2 on Sunday. Boston had a 6-0 lead before the Hurricanes scored two goals late in the third period. The Bruins won Game 1 5-2.

Carolina also trailed the Washington Capitals 2-0 in the first round and came back to win the series in seven games. 

Teams that take a 2-0 lead in the conference final round have gone on to win the series 30 of 32 times since 1981-82, when the NHL started using the conference format in the playoffs. The Bruins have won 24 of 31 series after taking a 2-0 lead.

"Playoffs is all about putting pressure on the other team and seeing how they do with a little bit of pressure," Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said. "So we have to get a win first of all and then just push back a little bit, see how they respond. It's not a do or die or go home, but it's an important game for us."

Here are 5 keys to Game 3:


1. Hurricanes need better goaltending

Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour won't say if it'll be Petr Mrazek getting his third straight start or Curtis McElhinney starting for the first time since May 3, when he helped the Hurricanes finish a four-game sweep of the New York Islanders in the second round.

No matter who it is, the Hurricanes can't expect to win if their goalie has a save percentage anywhere close to the .808 Mrazek had in the first two games. He allowed 10 goals on 52 shots.


2. Focus on goalie tendencies

If it's Mrazek, the Bruins have proven that his aggressiveness can be used against him. They have been patient with the puck, waiting for Mrazek to make the first move, which has opened backdoor plays that have been hard for him to defend when he moves laterally.

If it's McElhinney, the Bruins likely will have to shoot quicker because he plays deeper in the crease and is focused more on being positionally sound than using his athleticism.


3. Scoring from defensemen

Boston has four goals from defensemen in the series, including two in Game 2 from Matt Grzelcyk. The four goals match the goal production the Bruins got from their defensemen in the first two rounds (13 games).

The Hurricanes have no goals from defensemen in the series and one in their past seven games. They led the NHL with 48 goals from defensemen in the regular season. Boston was 25th with 31.

The flip-flop is likely because the Bruins appear to be taking advantage of Carolina's aggressiveness from the back end. If it continues, the Hurricanes might think about sitting back more, which isn't what they want to do.

"Their 'D' pinch a little more so if you chip it behind them and your 'D' is part of the rush you can beat them up ice," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. "That's pretty typical of how Carolina gets their offense from their 'D'. So if it's there, take it."


4. Hurricanes must forecheck

The Hurricanes' forwards were stuck defending, chipping the puck out, going for a line change and then defending again too often in Games 1 and 2. It's like having their game thrown right back at them because typically they are the aggressors, the team forechecking relentlessly. 

The Hurricanes have to be the aggressors early in Game 3. It starts with their transition out of the zone. Move it quick, get up the ice and attack. They can put the Bruins on their heels and force goalie Tuukka Rask into some challenging situations. He had it too easy in Game 2.

"It's going to take a lot more than we did in Boston," Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho said. "It's good that we get the home crowd going in here and try to use that to help us to get to our forecheck game."


5. Bruins hot on power play

The Bruins power play comes into Game 3 red hot after having gone 2-for-2 in Game 2 and 2-for-5 in Game 1, and changing that game by scoring both power-play goals in the third period after trailing 2-1 through 40 minutes. 

The Hurricanes clearly can't keep giving the Bruins chances to beat them on the power play. The other part is Carolina has to do what it can to keep the game 5-on-5 because it can't rely much on its power play, which is 5-for-45 in the playoffs (11.1 percent).


Hurricanes projected lineup

Andrei Svechnikov -- Sebastian Aho -- Teuvo Teravainen

Nino Niederreiter -- Jordan Staal -- Justin Williams

Warren Foegele -- Lucas Wallmark -- Brock McGinn

Micheal Ferland -- Greg McKegg -- Saku Maenalanen

Jaccob Slavin -- Dougie Hamilton

Brett Pesce -- Justin Faulk

Haydn Fleury -- Calvin de Haan

Petr Mrazek

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Jordan Martinook, Jake Bean

Injured: Trevor van Riemsdyk (left shoulder)


Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- David Backes

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- Danton Heinen

Joakim Nordstrom -- Sean Kuraly -- Chris Wagner

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk -- Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, Karson Kuhlman, John Moore, Noel Acciari

Injured: Kevan Miller (lower body)


Status report

The Hurricanes did not hold a morning skate. ... Cassidy said Acciari, who has missed four games with an upper-body injury, is cleared to play but will be scratched. … Maenalanen, who has missed four games with an upper-body injury, could replace Martinook. correspondent Kurt Dusterberg contributed to this report


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