Eastern Conference Finals Game 4: Boston 4 – Carolina 0
With the Bruins up 3 games to none in the series and the Hurricanes on the brink of elimination, we stayed in Carolina for Game 4. There were some changes to the Bruins lineup for this game as Chris Wagner has been ruled out indefinitely after blocking a shot late in Game 3. It appears that he may have broken his hand or arm and was in a sling after the game, he was also sent back to Boston already, with Noel Acciari sliding back onto the fourth line. Zdeno Chara was ruled out of this one (replaced by John Moore) after missing practice on Wednesday and optional morning skate before this game. It is unclear what is ailing Big Z, but from what I saw, in Game 6 against Columbus, Chara blocked a shot that hit his foot/ankle area. My concern is that he is playing through a broken foot. He has looked a step behind most of the playoffs, but has continued to play well despite whatever the injury may be. With a 3-0 lead in the series, the Bruins could almost afford to let him sit out a game and get some rest before either moving onto the Stanley Cup Final or a possible Game 5 in Boston, which I’m sure he would return to the lineup.
As we started the game, it was obvious that Carolina wasn’t going to roll over and let the Bruins take the sweep, they were going to make them earn the win. The Canes came out very hard and looked much like they did in the first period on Tuesday night. Much like that first period, they could not get the puck past Tuukka Rask in the first period and the game ended up scoreless heading into the second.
When we got to the second period, the Hurricanes continued to pressure the Bruins and Tuukka Rask, but things changed quickly. Carolina would take a too many men on the ice penalty setting up the third Boston power play of the game. In the series the Bruins were an astounding 5-13, and that quickly became 6-14, as Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak would connect for the power play goal. As Brad Marchand flew into the offensive zone with the puck, Pastrnak raced to the front of the net and had an easy tap in from the Marchand pass after Curtis McElhinney, the Hurricanes goalie, very aggressively came out of the goal, but was fooled by the pass.
With the Hurricanes needing to tie the game, they really couldn’t get much going. The Bruins team defense has been outstanding in this series not allowing some of Carolina’s best players to make an impact on the game. I don’t think that I have heard Sebastian Aho’s name during a scoring opportunity since Game 1. Other than Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron deserves a lot of credit since he has been on the ice against Aho most of the time in this series. Speaking of Patrice Bergeron, he would double the lead late in the second on the Bruins second power play goal of the night. Greg McKegg would be called for goalie interference after he skated into Rask attempting to shoot. On the power play, Pastrnak entered the zone with the puck and lost control, but the puck bounced right to Patrice Bergeron who would give and go with Pasta and fire a quick wrist shot past McElhinney.
We would then move onto the third period where the Hurricanes found themselves trailing by two goals with 20 minutes to play in their season unless they could find a way to at least tie the game up. The Bruins wouldn’t sit back and defend the entire period as just over halfway through the period, the B’s would pot another goal. Pastrnak would find Bergeron once again for the 3-0 lead and essentially ending the series.
With the “Let’s Go Bruins!” raining down from the rafters of PNC arena, the home rink for Carolina, the Bruins try to end the series in a sweep. Carolina needing three goals in the final 5 minutes, they would pull their goalie for the extra attacker and set sights on Rask. There was no breaking through the wall that was Tuukka and Brad Marchand would put one in the empty net to make it 4-0, game and series over.
The Bruins will move on to the Stanley Cup Final and take on the winner of San Jose and St. Louis. That series may take some time, so the Bruins could potentially be off for a week or more. The rest is much needed, but it can come at a cost. Tuukka Rask has been playing the best he has in his career and making him wait all that time to play again can slow his great play. I haven’t seen Tuukka play this well ever though, and I’m sure he will pick right up where he left off when the Finals start.
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