Two of the toughest teams in the Eastern Conference will take the ice Monday evening in Toronto for a pivotal Game 4 in their best-of-seven series. The Boston Bruins will be aiming to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, while the Carolina Hurricanes are attempting to even the series up at two games apiece.
Here is a preview for Game 4 between the Bruins and Hurricanes, along with a series recap and a free pick. Currently, Boston is a slight favorite at -125.
The series got off to a thrilling start that took five periods of hockey to finish. Game 1 ended on the stick of C Patrice Bergeron, who scored in the 2nd overtime period to give the Bruins a 4-3 win.
Both teams scored a goal in each period; RW David Pastrnak, C Charlie Coyle, and C David Krejci for Boston and D Joel Edmundson, RW Brock McGinn, and D Haydn Fleury for Carolina. The Bruins won the shot battle 40-28, with Boston’s Tuukka Rask making 25 saves.
For Game 2, D Dougie Hamilton’s first goal of the postseason came at a perfect time, as his game-winner in the third period lifted Carolina to a 3-2 win to even the series. RW Teuvo Teravainen and RW Andrei Svechnikov also scored for the Hurricanes, coming a minute and a half apart in the second period, while James Reimer made his first start of the series and stopped 33 shots. Krejci and LW Brad Marchand scored the two Boston goals.
Game 3 rolled around, just a few hours after Rask announced he was opting out of the postseason. But led by Jaroslav Halak’s 29 saves, the Bruins held on to win 3-1.
Coyle broke the tie with a power-play goal early in the 2nd, while LW Sean Kuraly put Boston up by a pair with a shorthanded goal in the 3rd. LW Nino Niederreiter got a power-play tally to break the scoreless streak for Carolina, but Marchand sealed the deal with an empty-netter.
Keys to Victory
Bruins will win if the power play has a repeat of Game 2. During the second game of this series, the Bruins scored both of their goals with the extra man. But Games 1 and 3 were a different story, where Boston combined to go 1-for-9 on the power play.
With their leading scorer Pastrnak out tonight, the stars like Bergeron and Marchand and others like Coyle and RW Ondrej Kase will be tasked with getting their power play more consistent, especially with Carolina giving them many chances.
Hurricanes will win if the first line can break out. Carolina has a pair of elite scorers in Teravainen and C Sebastian Aho that they depend upon for a lot of point production. But they have been handled by Boston’s first line and neutralized by the Brandon Carlo-Torey Krug defensive duo.
Worse more, Svechnikov will be out as well after injuring his leg in Game 3. The Canes will likely ask more of their defensemen and depth forwards to pick up the slack, but Aho and Teravainen starting to put up points will help greatly.
With Rask gone for the remainder of the postseason, the Bruins will turn again to Halak. The vet went 29-for-30 in Game 3 to earn the win. His only other start since the return to play was August 2nd, a loss to the Flyers, where he allowed four goals.
While the Hurricanes have juggled a couple of goalies, expect Mrazek to be back in net. The former Red Wing made 36 saves in each of his two starts against the Bruins but earned the loss in both. He also started two games against the Rangers and won both.
Both teams are missing key goal scorers, but one team is deeper and better able to handle the loss. That would be the Bruins, who have been the better team in terms of possession and goaltending.
Even though the losses of Pastrnak and Rask are big and Carolina will be hungry, I’m going with Boston to put them on the brink of advancing to the next round.
Pick: Bruins -125