Sean Kuraly's Short-Handed Goal Leads Bruins Past Hurricanes in Game 3August 15, 2020
Despite being without two of their key players, the Boston Bruins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Saturday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Boston took a 2-1 series lead even though goalie Tuukka Rask opted out and left the team to be with his family during the coronavirus pandemic and leading scorer David Pastrnak missed his second consecutive game with an undisclosed issue.
Backup goalie Jaroslav Halak stepped up for the Bruins and made 29 saves on 30 shots to spearhead Boston's victory, while Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly and Brad Marchand scored key goals.
Kuraly's marker was short-handed and turned out to be the game-winner.
Jaroslav Halak, G, BOS: 29 saves on 30 shots
Petr Mrazek, G, CAR: 36 saves on 38 shots
Charlie Coyle, F, BOS: 1 PPG, 1 AST
Nino Niederreiter, F, CAR: 1 PPG
Sean Kuraly, F, BOS: 1 SHG
Brad Marchand, F, BOS: 1 G, 1 AST
David Krejci, F, BOS: 2 AST
Halak Rises to Occasion in Rask's Absence
The Bruins were dealt a significant blow prior to Saturday's game, as Rask informed them that he was opting out of the remainder of the playoffs to be with his family:
Rask is a two-time All-Star and one-time Vezina Trophy winner, and he was part of the Bruins team that won the Stanley Cup in 2010-11.
Luckily for the Bruins, they were able to turn to an experienced and accomplished backup in Halak. The 35-year-old Halak is a one-time All-Star and two-time William M. Jennings Trophy winner in his own right, and he entered this season with 30 games of playoff experience to his credit.
Halak looked like a seasoned veteran for much of Saturday's game, as he kept the Canes out of the net for the first two periods and made big saves such as this one:
It wasn't until the Bruins led 2-0 in the third period that Halak made a major mistake that shifted the game's momentum.
Halak attempted to clear the puck out of the zone, but he shot it right off Nino Niederreiter, who then put the puck in the empty net to cut Carolina's deficit to 2-1:
It was essentially a rookie mistake for a veteran goalie, and it left him no margin for error, as the Bruins clung to a one-goal lead.
Halak's experience helped him recover and hunker down the rest of the way, however, as he didn't allow another goal and the Bruins held on to take a 2-1 series lead.
With Rask done for the rest of the season, the Bruins will need more similar performances from Halak moving forward in order to vie for the Stanley Cup.
Hurricanes Listless Offensively in Loss
All signs pointed toward momentum being on the Hurricanes' side entering Saturday's Game 3, as they won Game 2 and knew going into Game 3 that the Bruins would be without Rask and Pastrnak.
Boston looked like the far more inspired and desperate team, however, as the Canes struggled to generate quality scoring chances.
The Bruins not only outshot the Hurricanes 39-30, but they also won the faceoff battle 33-25 and did all the little things needed to pick up the victory.
Carolina was also the victim of some great plays by Boston, including Coyle's remarkable midair bat of a puck to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the second period:
Kuraly's shorty in the third was more about outworking the opposition, though, as he went to the net and made the goal happen:
Goaltender Petr Mrazek was essentially the only bright spot with 36 saves on 38 shots, but with only one goal of support, he was saddled with the loss.
Carolina forward Andrei Svechnikov had to be helped off the ice after suffering an injury in the third period as well to add even more negativity to what was a poor overall performance for the team.
If Svechnikov is unable to play in Game 4, it may be advantage Boston even if Pastrnak is out again.
The Hurricanes will look to bounce back and even the series when they face the Bruins in Game 4 on Monday at 8 p.m. ET.