The Hurricanes first period in Game 3 was similar to their start in Game 1, except this time, there was nothing to show for it.
Carolina finished the first period Tuesday night with 20 shots on goal, but Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask stopped them all as he was the best player on the ice in this one.
The start was exactly what the Hurricanes wanted, and more so, needed. They did everything right, except, well, score. But scoring on Rask hasn’t been easy to do at all in the series.
“He was really good early. That’s for sure. We had a lot of opportunities in the first period, probably deserved a little better, but hey, that’s the way it is,” said Justin Williams who has one of the five Hurricanes goals against Rask in the series. “A lot of chances and he made a lot of saves early, and then throughout the game.”
Once the Bruins were able to survive the opening push the Hurricanes came out with, they were able to settle in knowing the ‘Canes did not take advantage of their hot start. As the Hurricanes finished the opening period with a 20-6 shot differential, they knew they needed more out of the period.
“You need to get something out of that period, obviously,” said Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “Not getting anything was a little bit demoralizing.”
The Hurricanes had their chances, many of them in fact. According to Natual Stat Trick,
they were credited with 31 scoring chances, including 17 high danger chances for. The ‘Canes finished with a goals for expectancy of 4.2.
“That’s the start we wanted. Was it deflating? We didn’t seem deflated. I’m sure maybe guys were obviously thinking that you wish you would get one,” defenseman Justin Faulk said “Anyone wishes they would have gotten one there when you’ve got the pressure going and you’re making it tough on them.”
Unlike the penalties—if you agree with them or not—taken in the third period of Game 1, and the complete no-show in Game 2, you can’t blame the Hurricanes efforts for their Game 3 loss. Things simply just did not go their way.
When they had key scoring chances, Rask was there. When rebounds were there for the taken, the Bruins defense was there. When the Hurricanes went in on those 50/50 pucks, the Bruins were more determined.
“The first two games we frankly weren’t good enough. This one we were good, but sometimes it saws off. But, they get the goals then they shut us down pretty good,” added Williams. “It was more of how we wanted to play, absolutely. It just didn’t happen for us and that stinks. That’s the way it goes sometimes, but we’re not going to go away quietly.”
After a shaky start to the series in Petr Mrazek’s first two starts of the Eastern Conference Finals, Brind’Amour decided to see what Curtis McElhinney could do for them, as the Hurricanes’ head coach searched for any type of spark.
McElhinney was solid in a 30-save effort.
“He was really good I thought. And then, just a change. I think, again, we’ve been happy with both guys. So it’s not really that hard of a decision to just go—we’ve rotated all year. We actually thought about rotating at the start of the playoffs, just because why wouldn’t ya?,” Brind’Amour said.
“Mac was great, he gave us a chance tonight and that’s all you can ask. The other guy was pretty special down the other end, so it was a good battle there.”
So now what?
Down 3-0 in a series against a red hot Bruins team, the Hurricanes face their toughest challenge yet. Minutes after a disappointing loss is not quite the time for Williams to address the now what question.
“We will look at that tomorrow,” he said.
“Right now it’s very disappointing obviously. But, I’ll probably give you tomorrow the clichés that are going to be thrown to ya and everything. We’ll look at that tomorrow when we do it.”