The Boston Bruins will play the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final.
The Bruins advanced with a 3-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday. It will be their first conference final since 2013, when they lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
"It's going to be a hard series," said goalie Tuukka Rask, who made 39 saves in Game 6. "But trying to enjoy this now. Get back at it, whenever. But [the Hurricanes are] a good team. Any team who's playing at this point is a great team and brings a great challenge. Should be interesting."
The Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 5-2 in Game 4 on May 3 to sweep the second-round series and advance to the conference final for the first time since 2009, which had been the last time they qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals in seven games in the first round.
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"I'm just so proud of these guys. I can't even tell you," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said after Game 4 against New York. "They just grind it. It wasn't pretty, but I think a break is what they need more almost mentally. They need a little rest. Will it affect us in our first game? We're going to hear about that maybe. There might be a little rust there, but I think we need it."
The Bruins, who finished second in the Atlantic Division and defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round, will have home-ice advantage in the series against the Hurricanes, who were the first Eastern wild card. Game 1 is at TD Garden on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Boston was 2-1-0 against Carolina this season, with one win in overtime. Brad Marchand led Boston with five points (two goals, three assists), and Patrice Bergeron had four (one goal, three assists). Jaroslav Halak was 2-0-0, allowing five goals on 81 shots (2.47 GAA, .938 save percentage). Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 32 shots in a 5-3 loss.
"We saw them towards the end of the year, I believe," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "The pace. They can skate. And they're physical. They're kind of a mix of … Columbus is a lot more heavy, Toronto is more pace. I think they're a little bit of both. Young team, [defensemen] get up the ice."
Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had four points (two goals, two assists) in the 5-3 win Dec. 23. Petr Mrazek made 24 saves in the win, which was his only start. Curtis McElhinney allowed four goals on 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss March 5. Aho had seven points (four goals, three assists) in the three games.
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The Bruins and Hurricanes have split two playoff series, with Boston winning in the 1999 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and Carolina winning in the 2009 conference semifinals.
NHL.com staff writer Amalie Benjamin contributed to this report