RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Twice before, the Carolina Hurricanes have made the playoffs only to see their rise to become a serious Stanley Cup contender blocked by the Boston Bruins.
Two newcomers helped the Hurricanes finally outrun their bully in the playoffs — and in Game 7, at that.
Midseason takeover Max Domi scored twice in the second period, while Antti Raanta made 27 saves to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Saturday to win their first-round playoff series.
Teuvo Teravainen also scored for the Hurricanes, who ultimately defeated a team that swept them through the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals and, a year later, won a five-game first-round series on the Toronto bubble.
“It’s such a different feeling to go into this one,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I think in the others, if we had won, you might have been a little surprised.
“This time, I felt it was our turn. Our guys have matured. I think they felt it too.”
Carolina moves on to the second round to face the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
One thing is certain: winning the Metropolitan Division title paved the way by securing home advantage. This was a series in which neither team managed an away win, with the Hurricanes eventually getting the final word backed by yet another raucous crowd.
“Obviously we needed one on the road, and we couldn’t do that,” said Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron.
Carolina held out after squandering a 2-0 series lead and then a poor performance in Thursday’s Game 6 loss with a chance to advance.
“Game 7, Game 4, 5, 6 – whatever it is, you’re moving forward, which is the best thing,” said defender Jaccob Slavin.
Domi was an unlikely star in this one. Carolina acquired him ahead of the March trade deadline, and he rewarded them with his first career postseason goals. He also helped Teravainen’s goal with a perfect pass to the top of the goal for the start of the first half.
“Obviously, I was very lucky to come to a team like that,” said Domi.
Then there’s Raanta, who joined Frederik Andersen in revamping the team’s goalkeeper position. But with Andersen injured at the end of the regular season, Raanta took the lead despite never starting a postseason game before.
He got back into the net again. His biggest stop came early with a full save to deny Taylor Hall near the left post on a 2-1 chance in the first period of a goalless game.
David Pastrnak scored one with 21.7 seconds left with Boston having pulled Jeremy Swayman into the extra striker. From there, the Hurricanes had to put up with a tense shift of killing the clock before they could celebrate.
“When they got the second one, it was probably the longest 20 seconds of my life for sure,” Raanta said.
Jake DeBrusk scored in the second period for the Bruins, while Swayman finished with 28 saves. But the Bruins found themselves trying to catch up after Domi’s first goal, which saw him skate down the left side to dunk a Jordan Staal redirect attempt at 3:14 of the second.
Later, after DeBrusk had defeated Raanta from the top of the line, Teravainen made a pass to Domi for a single goal. The puck passed Swayman at 10:33 of the second for a 3-1 lead and another goal coming just yards from the crease.
“We pride ourselves on our D-zone coverage, things we’ve done really well all year,” said Boston coach Bruce Cassidy. “Two faults that, yes, they made plays, but more about us not doing the job defensively – being in the right places, good sticks.”
SIX IN A STRAIGHT LINE
The Hurricanes have improved to 6-0 in Game 7 since the former Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997. This includes the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals against Edmonton, as well as a second-round overtime victory in Boston in 2009 – which lasted 14 years earlier to the day.
The Bruins were in their sixth straight playoffs. But this marks the first time Boston has gone without a streak since dropping in a six-game streak to Ottawa in 2017.
Bergeron, the longtime No. 1 center, could become an unrestricted free agent after 18 seasons with the team. He declined to talk about a new contract during the year, creating the possibility of leaving or retiring.
He wasn’t ready afterwards to think about what comes next.
“It’s very fresh now,” Bergeron said. “It still hurts, obviously, from a hotly contested series. It was short so obviously I’ll have to think about it. But I’m not there now.
The Hurricanes had their biggest crowd in franchise history, with 19,513 spectators. This surpassed the previous mark of 19,495 during the New York Islanders’ final second-round victory in 2019.
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