TORONTO (AP) — Patrice Bergeron scored the winner early in double overtime, and the Boston Bruins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 Wednesday in Game 1 of their first-round series that was postponed 15 hours to a rare late-morning start.
The game scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday night started the next morning at 11 after the Columbus Blue Jackets-Tampa Bay Lightning series opener went five overtimes. Playing all Eastern Conference games at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena had this potential for games going long messing with the schedule.
Hurricanes-Bruins Game 1 wasn’t quite the same marathon with Bergeron scoring 1:13 into the second extra period. But it had plenty of theater from Carolina’s surprise scratches to a controversial goal and video review.
“We talked about trying to end this before the fifth overtime,” Bergeron said.
Much has changed since these teams met in the 2019 Eastern Conference final, but Boston continued its dominance more than a year after sweeping Carolina. The Bruins showed quick recovery from losing all three of their round-robin seeding games and handed the Hurricanes their first loss since hockey returned.
Joel Edmundson, who wasn’t with the Hurricanes last year and joined them in a trade from the St. Louis Blues after winning the Stanley Cup, opened the scoring 13:02 into the first period.
The way Boston tied it was plenty familiar, with the its fearsome first line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak registering its first goal in their fourth game since the NHL’s restart. Bergeron won a faceoff to Marchand, who fed it to Pastrnak for the league-leading goal-scorer to finish it off at the 17:45 mark of the first.
“We’re getting better from one game to the next. we’ve got to keep doing that, keep doing the little things to help our team,” Bergeron said.
The Bruins took their first lead in the fourth game they’re playing when Charlie Coyle scored 4:38 into the second. But goaltender Petr Mrazek was livid, and coach Rod Brind’Amour challenged for what the Hurricanes thought was a missed hand pass by Boston’s Brett Ritchie.
Officials and the NHL’s situation room ruled that Mrazek trying to cover the puck negated the hand pass. On the ice, no whistle was blown for Mrazek freezing the play, so Coyle poking it out and scoring was allowed.
Carolina was penalized for the failed challenge, but Boston’s lead lasted just 11 seconds before Brock McGinn scored short-handed. David Krejci put the Bruins ahead 59 seconds into the third, and that lead held up less than nine minutes before Hurricanes defenseman Haydn Fluery beat Tuukka Rask from long distance with a shot from just inside the blue line.
Then this became the sixth game of the past 11 in these playoffs to go to overtime. A video screen inside the arena flashed the message, “Deja Vu?” minutes into OT.
But this game was far from the same as Columbus-Tampa Bay, notably because the Hurricanes and Bruins were primed to play at night and had to regroup for a matinee.
“It was strange,” Marchand said, “but it just kind of goes hand in hand with this whole thing.”
Also part of this whole thing is a league policy of not disclosing injuries, which allowed Carolina to hide the surprise absences of winger Justin Williams and defenseman Sami Vatanen despite not having played in eight days. Williams instead watched nervously from the stands.
NOTES: Mrazek stopped 36 of the 40 shots he faced. … Rask made 25 saves. … Carolina D Dougie Hamilton played for the first time since breaking his left leg in January.
Game 2 is Thursday night.