Bruins eliminate ‘Canes, get time to plan for repeat Cup run

NHL

The Boston Bruins dispatched the Carolina Hurricanes in five games, and now they have time.

Time for David Pastrnak to fully heal. Time for Jaroslav Halak to settle in as the No. 1 goaltender. And time to reload for another long run the playoffs.

”Hopefully Pasta is no worse for the wear tomorrow, Jaro’s got the net, make a few tweaks here and there,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said on Wednesday after the defending Stanley Cup finalists won 2-1 to eliminate the Hurricanes in five games. ”It looks like we’re better prepared now in terms of chemistry and stability in our lineup.”

Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winner with 3.5 seconds left in the second period, Pastrnak returned from an injury with two assists and Halak stopped 23 shots for Boston, which swept Carolina in the Eastern Conference finals last season.

David Krejci also scored for the Bruins, who trailed 1-0 with five minutes left in the period but came back to win for the second straight game. Boston must now wait for the rest of the East to finish their first-round series to finish before learning its opponent.

”This is kind of a unique situation, the bubble,” Krejci said. ”We’ll take the win and happy that we don’t have to come back here tomorrow.”

The Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy with a league-best 100 regular-season points, only to go 0-3 in the seeding round to fall to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Then, just hours before Game 3, Vezina Trophy finalist Tuukka Rask opted out of the postseason to be with his family.

That elevated Halak to starter — a role he hadn’t held since coming to Boston in 2018. But he posted three straight victories to help the Bruins advance to a second-round series against the Lightning, Islanders, Capitals or Flyers.

”After the round-robin, I think we turned the page and we just played our game,” Krejci said. ”We had that great game plan, we knew exactly what to do, how to beat these guys. We stuck with it.”

After scoring 48 goals in the regular season, tying Alex Ovechkin for the most in the NHL, Pastrnak appeared to injure himself celebrating Bergeron’s overtime goal in the opener and missed the next three games. He assisted on both Boston goals on Wednesday.

”Felt better every shift,” he said. ”It was good to be back with the guys. Anytime you’re watching the games from the stands, it’s tough.”

The second round isn’t expected to start before Sunday, but Boston could be waiting even longer if any of the first-round series go to seven games. Cassidy said there was no template for how to handle long layovers in the pandemic era.

”It’s not like your typical time off where you get away from the rink, and you’re with your kids and your family and doing some outdoor activities. Hopefully we can plan something,” he said.

”We’re certainly going to practice, but they have to fill their days,” Cassidy said, mentioning everything from golf to touch football to pickle ball. ”There’s not a lot of different things you can do. We’ll just sort of continue to focus on the task at hand and enjoy our time off, lick our wounds so to speak, and get ready for the next round.”

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