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Conference Final

Mrazek not guaranteed to start Game 3 after Hurricanes lose again

Has allowed 10 goals on 52 shots against Bruins in Eastern Conference Final

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Senior Director of Editorial

BOSTON -- Petr Mrazek's status as starting goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final is not guaranteed after he allowed six goals on 25 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 2 at TD Garden on Sunday.

The Bruins lead the best of-7 series 2-0. Game 3 will be played at PNC Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"We've still got to let this one digest a little bit and then move forward," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said.

This one will be hard for each member of the Hurricanes to digest, especially Mrazek, who has allowed 10 goals on 52 shots (.808 save percentage) against the Bruins through the first two games of the series.

Boston's first goal, scored by defenseman Matt Grzelcyk from a bad angle at 15:22 of the first period, will be the bitterest part of the digestion process. The shot hit Mrazek in the chest but somehow found its way past him and trickled over the goal line to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead and the momentum in what had been an even period.

"I wasn't happy about the first goal," Mrazek said. "Obviously, I have to have that."

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm2: Grzelcyk's shot sneaks past Mrazek

Brind'Amour said, "Well, the first one was no good. He knows that. That's a tough one. The game is kind of nothing's going on really either way with either team, which is what we want at the start of the game there."

Things got worse when Hurricanes forward Justin Williams took a tripping penalty and Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk scored six seconds into the power play, at 18:32, to make it 2-0. Mrazek made the initial save on a David Pastrnak shot from the point, as well as DeBrusk's first rebound attempt.

More breakdowns led to more goals -- two in the second and two in the third -- scored by players who were not covered in front of the net or who skated into open spaces without much resistance.

"That was not a good game by us," Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho said. "We didn't help [Mrazek] at all. [The Bruins] played well, but that's good enough for us."

Despite giving up four goals on the 21 shots in the first two periods, Mrazek was not replaced to start the third by backup Curtis McElhinney, who relieved Mrazek because of a lower-body injury sustained in Game 2 of the second round against the New York Islanders. McElhinney did not allow a goal on 17 shots in relief for the Hurricanes, who rallied for a 2-1 victory in Game 2. He also won the next two games, each 5-2, in the four-game sweep.

"Yeah, of course I wanted to stay in the whole game," said Mrazek, who has a 2.73 goals-against average and an .894 save percentage in 11 games during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

[RELATED: Bruins vs. Hurricanes series coverage | Hurricanes need to regroup ahead of Game 3]

 

McElhinney is 3-0 with a 1.56 GAA and .947 save percentage.

Brind'Amour has not pulled a goalie for poor play all season and, after some thought, opted not to Sunday.

"He's a battler," Brind'Amour said of Mrazek. "A lot of other guys on the bench deserved to come out if that's how we're doing it, but that's not how we do it. If he wants to battle it out, that's how we go about it."

Mrazek started for Carolina in the first round, when it defeated the Washington Capitals in seven games. He allowed seven goals over the first two games (both losses) but bounced back at home with a shutout in Game 3, a 5-0 win, and made 30 saves for a 2-1 victory in Game 4 to even the best-of-7 series.

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm2: Brind'Amour speaks on Game 2 loss

Mrazek wants the chance to have a similar response against the Bruins.

"It's 2-0 and we have been in this situation before," he said. "We are going home, and we know what we can do it at home and we have to shake it off and think about the next one.

"I just have to stop more pucks than I did today, that's for sure. I have to be better at everything."

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