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Mrazek returns for Hurricanes, disappointed in Game 1 loss to Bruins

Makes 23 saves in first game since sustaining lower-body injury April 28

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

BOSTON -- Petr Mrazek's joy at making a return from injury for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final was short-lived.

"I wish I could have won that game," the Carolina Hurricanes goalie said after a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday.

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Hurricanes series coverage]

 

Mrazek made 23 saves in his first game since April 28, when he sustained a lower-body injury during the second period of Game 2 of the second round against the New York Islanders. 

The Hurricanes did not announce who would be the starter until minutes before the game, when Mrazek led the team out for warmup. Curtis McElhinney, who finished the game in which McElhinney was injured, making 17 saves in a 2-1 win, started and won Game 3 and Game 4 (each 5-2) to sweep the best-of-7 series.

"I don't think it was difficult to come back," Mrazek said. "It was [10 days] to be out, so it wasn't a longer period. I felt good right away and couldn't complain."

At the time of the injury, Mrazek thought his absence could have been longer. 

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm1: Mrazek turns aside Wagner's wrister

He was emotional when he had to leave the game against the Islanders, slamming his stick twice on the way off the ice after trying to stretch out his injured leg during stoppages for several minutes. He had missed a month of the regular season, from Nov. 3 to Dec. 1, with a groin injury and may have feared the same this time.

But he was able to convince coach Rod Brind'Amour that he was mentally and physically ready to play on Thursday.

"He's been a rock back there whenever he's been in," forward Greg McKegg said. "He played well and looked sharp. We just have to do a little better job in front of him."

On the first shift of the game, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron skated through the defense and snapped a shot that Mrazek turned aside. He had little chance on the Steven Kampfer goal at 2:55 of the first period when the defenseman took an uncontested shot from between the circles. 

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm1: Brind'Amour speaks on Game 1 loss

Mrazek did not allow another goal until the third period, making 15 straight saves while the Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead on a goal each by Sebastian Aho and McKegg. But penalty trouble early in the third proved to be the undoing for both Mrazek and the Hurricanes. 

Carolina took three minors in the first 5:29 and Boston scored on each of the first two power plays. Marcus Johansson tied it 2-2 at 2:26, and Bergeron scored 28 seconds later to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead at 2:54.

Carolina could not generate much after that. 

Charlie Coyle scored into an empty net at 17:47 to extend the lead to 4-2, and Chris Wagner scored on a breakaway 11 seconds later for the 5-2 final.

"Petr was fine," Brind'Amour said. "We left him out to dry there at the end, but I thought he was solid."

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