Carolina finally loses at home

Michael Finewax

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported on Tuesday night that Ralph Krueger was going to be named the new head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. It should be no surprise as he was a finalist for the job a couple of seasons ago when GM Jason Botterill eventually settled on Phil Housley. When Housley was sent packing at the end of this past season, Botterill went back to his notes and hired the former Edmonton Oiler skipper.

In other news, the Toronto Maple Leafs extended the contract of their president, Brendan Shanahan, for another six seasons. “The Shanaplan” is in full force in Toronto, and it’s full steam ahead for the Maple Leafs.

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BOSTON 2 CAROLINA 1 (Boston leads the best-of-seven series 3-0)

The Boston Bruins took a stranglehold on their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Final as they went into Raleigh and upended the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 to take a 3-0 series lead.

The pesky Brad Marchand, who is hated throughout the NHL with the exception of Boston, scored the winner with a backhander that beat Curtis McElhinney in the second period to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the contest.

The Hurricanes came out flying in the first period as they entered the game in desperate need of a win after losing both in Boston to start the series. But Tuukka Rask was outstanding yet again in the Boston cage and turned aside all 20 shots that he faced in the opening stanza.

McElhinney, who made his first start of the series after Petr Mrazek gave up 10 goals to the Bruins on only 52 shots in the first two games, faced only six shots in the first period and was perfect. McElhinney started Games 3 and 4 against the Islanders in Round 2 and won both games as the Canes won their previous round in four straight.

Despite the play of McElhinney against the Islanders, coach Rod Brind'Amour decided to go back to the previously injured Mrazek but that backfired with the Bruins winning both. Brind’Amour did not name his starting goaltender for Game 3 until Tuesday, and it was no surprise that McElhinney got the call.

Chris Wagner got the Bruins off to a 1-0 lead at the 1:21 mark of the second period as he redirected a perfect pass from Joakim Nordstrom into the net.

Marchand’s game winner made it 2-0 and it was a power play effort. The power play has been the difference in the series as Boston is 5-12 with the man-advantage while Carolina has scored only once in 12 opportunities.

Carolina was 0-5 on the night with the power play but did all they could to put one in as they managed 14 shots on Rask who turned aside every one.

The one shot that eluded Rask was Calvin de Haan’s shot from the point in the second period as he managed to find the four inches of space in Rask’s five hole. It cut the lead in half in the second as the Bruins rebounded to outshoot the Hurricanes 18-6.

There was no scoring in the third as Carolina outshot Boston 10-7. The ice seemed tilted if you were watching as 48 shots were taken at one end with only 19 shots at the other.

Rask turned aside 35 shots for his 11th win in the post-season. It was McElhinney’s first loss of the playoffs after three wins and the first loss at home for Carolina in the Stanley Cup playoffs after winning the first five this season.

Justin Williams had six penalty minutes with Torey Krug picking up four.

Sean Kuraly lead both teams with seven shots on goal. Williams led the Canes with six.

Wagner led the Bruins with four hits. Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho and Greg McKegg led Carolina with four hits apiece.

Charlie McAvoy had four blocked shots.

Game 4 is in Carolina on Thursday as the Bruins will try to clinch and the Hurricanes will attempt to send the series back to Boston.

Game 3 between St. Louis and San Jose will be played on Wednesday in St. Louis with that series tied at 1.

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