Bruins notes: Failing to score early cost B's in Game 1 loss to Hurricanes

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Bruins notes: Failing to score early cost B's in Game 1 loss to Hurricanes originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins had plenty of chances to score the first goal and dictate the way Game 1 of their first-round playoff series was going to be played, but they just couldn't put anything past Carolina Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta on Monday night.

The Bruins came out flying to start and nearly scored early in the first period when Jake DeBrusk tried to pounce on a loose puck inches from the goal line before Hurricanes defenseman Brendan Smith cleared the danger.

The Bruins had a 9-1 advantage in shots on net to begin the game. Raanta looked a bit jittery in the early going and gave up a few juicy rebounds. The first goal was absolutely there for the taking, but the Bruins failed to capitalize on any of their 11 scoring chances in the opening period.

Sooner or later, Raanta was going to get more comfortable and the Hurricanes were going to break through offensively, and the floodgates opened late in the second period when Seth Jarvis and Nino Niederreiter both scored on deflections in front of the net to give Carolina a 2-0 lead.

The Hurricanes rode that momentum to a 5-1 victory in front of their fans at PNC Arena.

"Their goalie made saves and there were some pucks around the net we couldn't locate or take the right path to, but they were there," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team's defeat. "(Raanta) is paid to play, too, and he did a good job. He kept them in the game early on.

"They are a team, where if you have the lead on them, it's an easier game for us. they play better when they have (the lead). They're made for it -- they check well. It opens them up a bit if they're behind. It could have impacted the game, for sure, if we finish (in the first 10 minutes). We didn't, but it wasn't for a lack of effort. We were ready to play. We just couldn't put anything in the net early on."

The best way to win on the road is scoring early and taking the crowd out of the game. If the Bruins buried any of their many scoring chances in the first period, the final score likely ends up being far different.

Carolina went 29-2-4 when leading after one period and 34-1-3 when leading after two periods during the regular season. When the 'Canes have the lead, they smother teams with an aggressive forecheck and by pressuring shooters at the point. Their physical style of play makes it hard to overcome deficits.

Game 1 was closer than the score would indicate. The Bruins played really well for long stretches. They will continue to generate scoring chances at a good rate, but they have to fight harder to get to the net and score some greasy goals. It's not going to be a pretty series from a skill standpoint.

Here are some other notes from Bruins-Hurricanes Game 1.

-- Both of the Hurricanes' first two goals were scored off deflections in front of the net. The Bruins did a poor job clearing traffic from the low slot, and as a result, Linus Ullmark was unable to track the puck well as it came in from the point. Defensemen have to move bodies out of the way or block the shot, and the B's did neither on these goals.

Seth Jarvis scored his first career playoff goal to get Carolina on the board in the second period.

Nino Niederreiter scored on a tip in front for the Hurricanes' second tally. A pair of Carolina players skated right to the top of the crease and faced no resistance from the Bruins.

It's tough to win games when the opponent spends so much time generating scoring chances in and around the net. Just look at the 5-on-5 heat chart below:

Natural Stat Trick

-- The Bruins power play was absolutely terrible in April and at one point was in an 0-for-39 drought. The bad habits that plagued the power play during that stretch -- poor zone entries, sloppy puck management, not enough shooting, etc. -- were problems again in Game 1 as the B's finished 0-for-3 with six shots and just three scoring chances.

"We can't rely on our power play against the No. 1 penalty kill, but it does have to give us some juice," Cassidy said. "I thought the first couple power plays we did get some looks. ..."

"The third one was disappointing. Our entries, when we did get in, we mishandled some pucks or didn't execute once we got it back. It's been a challenge for us the last month on the power play. Those guys have to take a little more ownership of it. Those are our top guys. Hopefully they're better Wednesday because we do have to get some life from it. Just because they have the best PK, doesn't mean we can't score on them. We've done it in years past in the playoffs. It can be a weapon if we get it going."

-- The Bruins going into the second intermission trailing was a pretty bad sign given how dominant the Hurricanes have been in third periods. They finished the regular season with 108 goals scored and just 63 allowed (fewest in the league) in the third period. Carolina's plus-45 scoring differential in the third period was by far the best in the league. The 'Canes already are plus-3 in this series.

Closing Time

'Canes 3rd period goal differential

+65

NHL Rank

1st

Variation

Double

-- The Hurricanes had the advantage in the faceoff circle, winning 56.9 percent of the draws (37-for-65).

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron led the league in faceoff percentage and faceoff wins in the regular season, but he was just 10-for-25 (40 percent) in Game 1. Boston and Carolina ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in faceoff percentage during the regular season.

-- Game 1 was just the fifth playoff matchup over the last 40 years in which both goalies made their first career postseason start.

-- The Bruins entered Monday with a 9-2 record in Game 1 of a playoff series since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach during the 2016-17 season. The B's actually won the two previous series in which they lost the opening matchup (2019 first round vs. Toronto and 2021 first round vs. Washington).