After the Bruins and Hurricanes ended a balanced first period tied at one, the Hurricanes—as they’ve done all playoffs long—dominated the middle period, taking a 2-1 lead into the third.
As the Hurricanes entered the third period of Game 1, they had yet to lose a playoff game where they took a lead into the final 20 minutes. A perfect 3-0 record on their résumé. The Bruins, on the other hand, were the complete opposite. An ugly 0-3 record when trailing after two periods.
Marcus Johansson decided to change both of those records.
When Jordan Staal was sent to the box for boarding Chris Wagner just 49 seconds into the third period of Thursday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bruins knew they had a chance to change the momentum of the game.
Johansson did just that.
Trailing 2-1 at the time, Johansson decided it was time to get a little dirty and do come cleanup work. Parking himself in front of Hurricanes’ goalie Petr Mrazek, Johansson was in the right place at the right time, banking home a loose puck for the tying goal.
‘I think I’ve been there most of my career on the power play – around the net – so, I’m pretty comfortable there and those greasy ones feel pretty good sometimes,” Johansson said following the Bruins 5-2 victory in Game 1.
Johansson’s goal opened the floodgates in the third period as the Bruins went on to score three more times in the frame.
“I thought the third was the way we want to play and not going to lie, the second goal got us going and got the momentum on our side, and then we got rolling,” said Patrice Bergeron who scored just 28 seconds after Johansson in the third. “But yeah, the third period is a little more of what the type of game that we want to bring, but again, we’ve got to be better.”
The Bruins got off to a good start in the first period as Steven Kampfer scored his first career playoff goal. A play that developed thanks to Johansson’s effort in the Bruins’ defensive zone.
Johansson missed the first two games of the Bruins first round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs due to illness. Going pointless in his first four games after returning from his illness, Johansson struggled to get his legs back and get going again.
But since then, Johansson has been one of the Bruins' most consistent forwards. He’s now up to seven points in the playoffs, with all seven of those points coming in the last eight games.
“He’s our net-front guy. We like him on the goal line too, making plays, but sometimes you have to be taking away the goalie’s eyes or getting ready for a rebound,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy. “He did a good job there, paid the price. The first one, to Kampfer, wins the puck out of our zone, good stick, good acceleration and then has the composure to make a play.”
The biggest issue the Bruins faced in the playoffs last year was the lack of secondary scoring. This time around, the Bruins have been getting plenty of it, with Johansson being heavily involved
“I think this time of year, as long as the team is winning, I think anyone would feel good. Couldn’t care less about who scores and who does what, as long as we get it done together,” said Johansson. “That’s the main thing and I think that’s one of the strengths of this team – that we have 20 guys that can do it and I think we’ve showed that more than once.”
As Johansson and Charlie Coyle continue to be big parts of the Bruins playoff run, general manager Don Sweeney continues to look smart for his two trade deadline acquisitions.
The two have a combined 16 playoff points.