Preview: Bruins at Hurricanes
While history is firmly on their side, the Boston Bruins are well aware that it's possible to blow a 3-0 series lead in the NHL playoffs. So is Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams. Winners of six in a row, the surging Bruins are in complete control of the Eastern Conference final and can complete a sweep of the Hurricanes in Thursday night's Game 4 in Carolina.
Boston, one of four teams in league history to lose a playoff series when holding a 3-0 lead (2010 versus Philadelphia), is within one win of reaching its third Stanley Cup Final in nine seasons. “It’s a good spot to be in, but it’s far from being over," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said after Tuesday's 2-1 victory. "We’re obviously happy with getting the win, but now we need to let it go and it’s on to the next one." Williams was on the last team to erase a 3-0 deficit and wound up as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in Los Angeles' run to the Stanley Cup championship in 2014. "I can’t sugarcoat anything. This isn’t an ideal," Williams acknowledged. "We’d obviously rather not be down 3-0 but with being down 3-0 creates opportunity for yourself. That’s the way you have to look at it.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Tuukka Rask has put himself at the forefront of the Conn Smythe conversation, allowing nine goals during the six-game winning streak after making 20 of his 35 saves in the first period of Game 3. "I can't say enough about Tuukks," center Patrice Bergeron said. "To me, it's been his poise. Tuukka's one of those guys that's always calm and collected, never too up or down. He's always even keel. Right now he's in the zone. He's been amazing. And he's a huge reason why we're here right now." Fourth-line winger Chris Wagner was hurt blocking a shot Tuesday and will be replaced by Noel Acciari.
ABOUT THE HURRICANES: Carolina has been haunted by its futility on the power play, whiffing on five chances in Game 3 -- four in the first period alone -- to fall to 1-for-12 in the series and 5-for-50 overall in the postseason. "We had a ton of good chances," coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "You've got to score on those. Five-on-three, you've got to score. Playoffs, especially, you don't get that many good looks in the game. That's one where you've got to find the back of the net." Curtis McElhinney, who replaced Petr Mrazek in Game 3 and made 29 saves, will "probably" be back in net Thursday, according to Brind'Amour.
1. The Bruins are 5-for-12 with the man advantage in the series.
2. Hurricanes F Sebastian Aho has points in five straight games overall and 10 in six meetings versus the Bruins this season.
3. Boston's six-game playoff win streak is its longest since 1978 and the third-longest in franchise history.
PREDICTION: Bruins 3, Hurricanes 2