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Conference Final

Bruins enter Game 3 aiming to hand Hurricanes first home loss in playoffs

Eye strong start to extend lead in Eastern Conference Final

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

BEDFORD, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins know they have a tough task ahead of them in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at PNC Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): Defeating the Carolina Hurricanes on the road.

Carolina is 5-0 at home in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but Boston is 4-2 on the road, including avoiding elimination against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6 of the first round and closing out the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6 of the second round.

The Bruins lead the best-of-7 series 2-0.


[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Hurricanes series coverage]


Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has relied on the leadership of captain Zdeno Chara, and alternate captains Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, who have won several big road games over the past decade, including Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final at the Vancouver Canucks. 

"Our veteran guys, they've won a Cup on the road, they've played big games on the road, so I don't think it fazes them where they play," Cassidy said Monday. "And our younger guys kind of will feed off that sort of calmness with them. As for us as coaches, I think sometimes we don't get into the line-match game a ton anyway, so it's nice to just roll your lines. I think the players get into the game a little better on the road in that regard, assuming there's no penalties."

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm2: Heinen converts Bergeron's pretty feed

Forward Sean Kuraly said a strong start is a key for Boston.

"Like we've said before, it's not just to weather their storm, but kind of go at them in the first 10 (minutes) and then you've got to play through the full 60," he said. "So there's a lot of other stuff in there, but it starts with a good start, starting on time."

In the first two games of the series, the Bruins have outscored the Hurricanes 11-4. In the first two playoff rounds, Carolina defensemen combined for 30 points (four goals, 26 assists) in 11 games, but the production from them has dried up against Boston; Justin Faulk's assist in Game 2 is the only point by a Hurricanes defenseman in the series.

"For the most part, if you can get in their way early, force the puck out of their hands, if you're finishing checks, reloading well … it's a little bit of being mindful who you're out there against," Cassidy said. "And then shot blocking. … Our system, we collapse. … Shot attempts will be up for their D no matter what we do, but if we can block them from getting to the net, then we've done our job."

Kuraly said keeping Carolina's defensemen occupied in their own end has helped as well.

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm2: Faulk knocks Kuraly to the ice

"I think for us, it's just about playing as much offense as we can and having the puck in their end, having the puck on our sticks, skating with it," he said. "And when we have it and we're trying to push the pace and be aggressive, it's tough for them to get much going."

One area where Boston expects Carolina to adjust is on the penalty kill. The Bruins lead the NHL on the power play in the playoffs at 33.3 percent, including going 4-for-7 against the Hurricanes. 

"If they're going to start doing something different, it's on us to adjust and continue with a lot of lot of plays in our pockets still waiting, so we'll see," Bruins forward David Pastrnak said.

Though teams that take a 2-0 lead in the conference finals have a series record of 30-2 (.938) since the conference format was adopted for the 1981-82 season, the Bruins aren't taking anything for granted.

"I don't think anyone has thought about the word over yet," Boston forward David Backes said. "We held home ice in our building, we've got to go into a hostile environment where they've been very good and play an excellent game, an excellent road game in order to get one win closer to our goal. That's our goal, that's what our focus, is on and tomorrow night at 8 o'clock being ready to start that game."

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said he expects being at home will help Carolina.

"I think that's just going to give you a little bit of energy," he said, "but we're going to have to execute a lot better if we want to continue playing." senior writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report


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