Bruins season ends with Game 7 loss to Carolina

RALEIGH, North Carolina – The Bruins’ season ended Saturday night with a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs opener at PNC Arena.

Boston once again gave up the first goal to Carolina, although they had a chance to open the scoring early when Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta stole Taylor Room on a 2-on-1 opportunity. The Hurricanes responded with a Teuvo Teravanainen scorer with just 1:24 left in the first to make it 1-0.

“We got alone early,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of Hall’s luck. “They scored the first goal…a big, timely save from Raanta. If we bury that 2v1, things could change in a game like today where it’s hard to score. They don’t give you much. You take the lead, a bit of adversity now from them… but it didn’t work out that way.”

With 58 seconds left in the first, Hall was given a four-minute minor for sticking high on Carolina defenseman Tony DeAngelo, leaving the Bs with just over three minutes left to open the second. Boston killed the double-minor, but the Hurricanes struck just 11 seconds later to give Max Domi a 2-0 lead in the game.

“We then end up having breakdowns,” Cassidy said. “We’re proud of the D-zone coverage, we’ve done very well all year and two breakdowns which, yes, they make plays, but more on us for not doing the job defensively, being in the right places, good sticks, so that’s probably where I disappointed the most, that’s how it ends…

“It’s game 89 and we’re proud of that, we’ve done a really good job up and down the lineup no matter who’s in and we obviously owe them credit for finishing those games as we we weren’t in the right places.”

The Bruins received some life early in the second when Jake DeBrusk cut the deficit in half at 5:04 of the middle frame, and moments later, Thirty Frederick rang a wrist on the slot post that would have tied the game, 2-2. But in another massive boost, Carolina regained a two-goal lead seconds later when Domi notched his second of the game at 10:33 of the second.

“At that point, you’re one shot away,” Bruins captain said Patrice Bergeron. “We had a few jumps, picked up the momentum, had some good changes, some good looks. We also had some good looks in the first one and if those rebounds go your way, it’s a different game. It’s easy to say that now. Congratulations to them, they played a great series, a great game. They are progressing.

Video: Cassidy speaks after Bruins lose Game 7

At the start of the third, Coyle and Craig Smith had a 2-on-1 that could have reduced the deficit to one, but the puck jumped over Coyle’s stick. Boston shot in a goal with 20.5 seconds left when David Pastrnak scored one on the doorstep, but despite a scramble to tie the game in the final seconds, the Bruins narrowly missed.

“You only get a limited number of kicks,” Cassidy said. “We were in the second half of Game 2 here, I think it was 4-1 and things weren’t going well. And there were messages. I know I spoke to the guys, ‘Hey, it’s a good group that has improved over the year and we have to start building our game very soon here because you’re going to bring this team to life even if we haven’t won this game , it was the beginning of our return to the series.

“We came home, we played better. And so tonight was going to be the end of that building and the next round. But that was our goal and that’s what we discussed… that’s why they are disappointed.”

Bergeron added that he was proud of the group for battling a 2-0 series deficit to force a seventh game against the second-best team in the East during the regular season, as well as the club’s resurgence in as a whole during the second half of the year.

“It stings and it’s not the feeling you want. But that being said, we did it together, said Bergeron. “It’s always hard to say that when you’re short, but it’s something to be proud of. We fought hard. It’s something we’ve done all year, to be honest with you. you. We started the show this year and this series was kind of the same.

“We fought to come back and played the kind of hockey we needed to progress. But tonight we fell short and we needed a little more.”

Brad Merchant said he believed the Bruins had a team that could go far if they got past the Hurricanes in the first round.

“Every year you go into the playoffs, you hope to have a long, deep run and you’ll have a good opportunity to fight for this Cup,” Marchand said. “We knew we were going to have our hands full with this team. They’ve been great all year, very well trained, very disciplined in their system. They have a lot of depth.

“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but we also knew that if we got through this team, we would have a deep run. I think that’s probably the toughest group to come out of the East with this group. We hoped to beat them.

“It always hurts, it always will. You only have a few opportunities like these throughout your career where you have a legitimate chance to go far and we thought we had that this year. It’s been evil.”

Video: Marchand speaks to the media after the Game 7 loss

A hard road

In the end, the Bruins couldn’t break through at the PNC Arena, dropping all four road games in Raleigh, as well as their only regular season trip to North Carolina.

“The games on the road hurt us in the long run,” said Bergeron. “I thought it was tight. They’re a good team that we fought against and we knew it was going to be a tough streak, we knew it was going to be a long streak. We expected that. We needed it on the road and we couldn’t do that.”

“They play better at home,” added Brad Marchand. “They get the matchups they want and even when we’re at home we get the matchups we want and we get our energy from our home crowd, they do it well here.

“It’s playoff hockey, it’s what you play for all year, it’s that home advantage. That’s why because when you’re good at home, it’s important in the playoffs and they are and we were. We had to win a game on the road and we didn’t.

Uncertain future

After the game, Bergeron said he hadn’t had time to consider his future yet. The 36 year old man, with his 18and The NHL season now over, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

“It’s too early right now,” Bergeron said. “It’s too fresh right now. It still stings of a hard-fought series. We fell short. I’ll have to think about it, but I’m not there yet.”

Marchand was emotional as he discussed his linemate and longtime friend after the match.

“He’s the backbone of our team,” Marchand said. “Obviously the biggest part of our team. We want him back, but whatever happens he has earned the right to make the decision he wants and take the time he needs. I guess time will tell.

“That’s why this one probably hurts more is the unknown for next year with him. He’s done so much for this group and sacrificed so much that it would have been nice to have a good run for him. That’s disappointing.”

Video: Bergeron addresses the media after Game 7 loss