For the third time in nine seasons, the Boston Bruins are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Bruins finished off the sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes with a 4-0 win on Thursday night behind two goals from Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask‘s second shutout of the 2019 postseason. David Pastrnak began the scoring for the Bruins and Brad Marchand sealed it late with an empty-net goal in the closing minutes.
Boston has now won seven straight games after falling behind two games to one to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round. It is their longest postseason winning streak since they won nine straight in 1972. With the win, the Bruins will make their first appearance in the Finals since 2013 where they fell in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. They knocked off the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 2011 for their first championship since 1972. They now await the winner of the Western Conference Finals between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues.
Despite missing their captain Zdeno Chara, the Bruins defense stymied the Hurricanes, particularly in the final two periods of the game as they held them to just 11 shots in the last 40 minutes. As mentioned before, the top line of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak dominated the score sheet for the first time all series, accounting for all four goals for the Bruins. However, this was the epitome of a total team effort as they prevented the Hurricanes from mounting any sort of consistent offensive push.
Tuukka Rask Continues his Dominance
Dating back to the 2013 season when the Bruins swept the Pittsburgh Penguins to reach the Finals, Rask is a perfect 8-0 in the third round of the playoffs with a .972 save percentage and a 0.84 goals against average with two shutouts. This playoff season alone he is now 12-5 with a .942 save percentage and a 1.84 GAA. By comparison, Tim Thomas’ run in 2011 saw him record a .940 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA en-route to a Stanley Cup Championship for the Bruins. In addition, Rask has now stopped 90-of-91 shots in games in which they have a chance to eliminate an opponent, including shutouts to close out the last two series.
The top line had their fingerprints all over the game four victory, however, the Bruins depth scoring has been the story of the postseason. Heading into game four, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson led the team with four points apiece against the Hurricanes. In addition, guys like Chris Wagner, Torey Krug, and Matt Grzelyck all had multiple points in this series. In fact, every skater except for Chara had at least one point against the Hurricanes.
This has been the case the entire postseason as 11 players have had at less seven points. Most notably Coyle and Johansson have combined for 21 points and were key acquisitions at the deadline for General Manager Don Sweeney.
Just as it was during the first round series against the Maple Leafs, the Bruins power play caught fire early and stayed hot by going 7-for-15 throughout the series including a pair in Thursday’s series clincher. In addition, the Bruins penalty kill unit held the Hurricanes power play to just one goal on 14 attempts with the lone goal being the first one they scored during the series.
— Full Press Bruins (@FPC_Bruins) May 17, 2019