BOSTON -- The Carolina Hurricanes didn't have to look hard to find the turning point in their 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday.
The Hurricanes led 2-1 following a strong second period but ran into penalty trouble early in the third and the Bruins made them pay with two power-play goals 28 seconds apart.
After Jordan Staal was called for boarding at 49 seconds, Marcus Johansson scored on a rebound in front to tie it 2-2 at 2:26. Dougie Hamilton was called for roughing 15 seconds later, and Patrice Bergeron converted at 2:54 to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead to end the Hurricanes' chance of stealing Game 1.
[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Hurricanes series coverage]
"We took a couple penalties against that good power play and that cost us the game," Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho said. "It was right there for us, but we've got to learn from this and come back whenever is the next game."
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is at Boston on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
The Hurricanes have some positives to build on. After Aho's redirection in front on a power play 3:42 into the first period answered Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer's goal at 2:55, Carolina controlled play for much of the second period.
The Hurricanes pressured the Bruins into repeated turnovers with their forecheck, outshot them 15-10, and took a 2-1 lead when Greg McKegg made a rush down the left wing at 9:18.
"The second period was fine," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We got skating. The first period we came out slow. The third period, obviously, the penalties put us back. We were on (our) heels right from the start, so we never recovered."
Video: Bruins net two quick goals in 3rd, take Game 1 of ECF
Hamilton followed his roughing penalty with an interference minor at 5:29 and, though Carolina killed off that penalty without allowing a shot on goal, it was unable to take back the momentum, managing six shots on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask in the third period.
Charlie Coyle scored an empty-net goal with 2:13 remaining, and Chris Wagner's breakaway goal 11 seconds later completed the scoring.
"I think we were playing a not bad game but had the lead in the third and took some penalties and gave them the lead," Hamilton said. "So tough to come back from that."
Although Hamilton said he "didn't agree with either" of the penalties called against him, Brind'Amour felt the Hurricanes needed to do a better job on the penalty kill (3-for-5) against the Bruins power play, which is a League-best 30 percent (12-for-40) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"We took penalties. We needed to kill them," Brind'Amour said. "Whether they're good or not, whether there were some let go we thought should have been called, that's going to happen every night. So we've got to come up with a better way to kill them, and when we get our power plays, we've got to make them count."
Entering Thursday, the Hurricanes were 3-0 in the playoffs when leading after two periods. They were 34-3-2 when leading after two periods during the regular season.
"This playoff we've been successful holding leads and we got kicked in the pants a little bit today," Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said. "That hasn't happened in a while and we've got to get the next one."
But Carolina has been in this position before. It lost 4-2 in Game 1 of the first round against the Washington Capitals and also lost 4-3 in overtime in Game 2 before coming back to win that series in seven games.
Although they don't want to tempt fate by dropping the first two games to Boston, the Hurricanes know there is no need to panic after one loss.
"Usually the first game of a series, there's a little tiny feeling out, just see what you're up against," Williams said. "Unfortunately, it's tough because that game was there for us."
To even the series with a win in Game 2, Carolina will have to take advantage of more of the scoring chances it generates 5-on-5. That includes its top line of Andrei Svechnikov, Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, which held its own when matched against Boston's top line of Brad Marchand, Bergeron and David Pastrnak, but couldn't find a way to score.
"We're not going to win if we don't play better than that," Brind'Amour said. "We had spurts, but that's not going to be good enough I don't think during the regular season. Certainly, it's not going to be good enough at this time of the year. So we'll regroup and try to get better for the next game."
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