The Hurricanes have seen this movie before, and the last time the saw it, they certainly enjoyed the ending.
Three weeks ago the Hurricanes returned home trailing 2-0 in a best-of-seven series after two road losses. This was the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals.
Fast forward to the Eastern Conference Finals and a series with the Boston Bruins and the ‘Canes find themselves in the exact same position after dropping Game 2 in Boston 6-2.
“Yeah, it’s two-nothing. We’ve been in this situation before,” said Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek who made 19 saves on 25 shots in Game 2. “We’re going home. We know what we can do at home, so we have to shake it off and, you know, start thinking about our next one.”
The Hurricanes came out flat in Game 2, trailing 4-0 after 40 minutes. But to be honest, after Matt Grzelcyk opened the scoring with 4:38 remaining in the first on a goal Mrazek absolutely needed to save, the ‘Canes didn’t have much of a chance.
Sure, the score was just 1-0, but the Hurricanes were not doing anything to show they were going to give the Bruins any trouble in Game 2.
“Well, the first one was no good, and he [Mrazek] knows that,” said Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “That’s a tough one. Nothing was kind of going on, really either way for either team, which is what we want, to start a game, and that was a tough one.”
From there, the Bruins went on to score the next five goals with two of those coming on the power play, something that has become a problem for the Hurricanes in the series.
“Then, unfortunately, Willie’s [Justin Williams] penalty is probably not a penalty, and then that leads to the second one, and that’s what happened,” added Brind’Amour. “Now, we open up, now we get away from even trying to do what we want to do, and there’s zero success when we do it that way, so tough night.”
I have to agree with Brind’Amour, not the best of tripping calls we’ve seen.
After a couple of tough goals allowed by Mrazek, some were surprised to see him return to the Carolina goal to start the third. Brind’Amour admitted they had the discussion during the intermission to pull him, but ultimately decided to stick with their starter.
“Yeah, we talked about it. But he doesn’t want to come out, he is a battler. A lot of other guys on the bench deserve to come out if that’s how we are doing it so it’s not how we do it,” said Brind’Amour. “Like I said the only one I thought he’d love to have back was that first one and he will tell you that. I haven’t even talked to him but I know that.”
As rough as a day as it was for Mrazek, the Hurricanes’ best players didn’t do much to help their goalie. It took just over 33 minutes for the Hurricanes to land their 10th shot on Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask.
On top of a lack of shots on Rask for half the contest, the Hurricanes were sloppy with the puck, allowing the Bruins to have the majority of quality puck possession time, despite the ‘Canes winning the Corsi battle at 51.9%.
‘Well, we just made it too easy. We’ve turned over way too many pucks, and our identity is below the tops of the circles, and our identity hasn’t been established in this series, so far,” said Williams.”
Even though they haven’t played their game, or established their identity as Williams said, the Hurricanes know that they can get themselves back into the series. Returning home to Carolina for Games 3 and 4, the ‘Canes have yet to lose in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on home ice.
“We’ve done it before,” Williams said on how to bounce back. “Experience—that’s what we lean on right now.”
The Hurricanes fate leans on their key players, some who were non-existent in Game 2. Sebastian Aho finished the game with a Corsi For Percentage of 33.33%, failing to land a five-on-five shot on goal.
The Hurricanes top d-pair of Dougie Hamilton and Jacob Slavin were on the ice for two five-on-five goals each, while Jordan Staal and Nino Niederreiter also failed to land any five-on-five shots on goal.
As the Hurricanes turn the page to Game 3, they’ll have to leave these two games in Boston behind them, and get back to what has worked so well for them leading up to the Eastern Conference Finals.
“Tough to think now, but just we don’t have to really think about these games now,” said Teuvo Teravainen. “Let’s just put it behind, and we’ve got to find a way to be better, everyone.”