RALEIGH — The Bruins were an excellent road team in the regular season, winning 25 games, just one fewer than they won at the Garden.
But they were just not the same team once the playoffs started, and their season is over because of it.
Carolina Hurricanes deadline acquisition Max Domi, little more than an afterthought through the first six games of the series, scored two goals and assisted on another to finally put the B’s to sleep for the summer, capturing Game 7 for the Canes at PNC Arena on Saturday, 3-2.
David Pastrnak scored with 21.7 seconds left to pull the Bruins within a goal, but that did not leave enough time. Patrice Bergeron had one last shot, but it did not get through to Antti Raanta.
While the Bruins pushed the Canes to the limit by winning all three games in Boston, they just could not finish their chances in Carolina, losing all four games and failing to score more than two goals in any of the games, registering just six goals total.
In the final game, the B’s had their chances both early and late but could never gain an advantage on the scoreboard.
Maddeningly, Game 7 followed a similar script as the Games 1, 2 and 5 here. The B’s got some early opportunities and carried some of the play, but wound up with not only a 1-0 deficit. And they were in deep trouble to start the second.
First off, the B’s second line had a glorious chance to take the lead when the second line broke in on an odd-man rush. Erik Haula made a beautiful backhand pass to Taylor Hall, but he was stoned by Raanta on a spectacular pad save. It was the save of the series by any goaltender.
Then, with 1:24 left in the period, the Hurricanes made the B’s pay for their missed chance with a pretty play of their own that they finished off.
Jaccob Slavin made a perfect pass down to Domi at the left side of the net, who dished it to Teuvo Teravainen at the top of the crease for a tap-in past Jeremy Swayman.
To make matters worse, Hall took a bad high-sticking penalty in the offensive zone on Tony DeAngelo in front of the Carolina net with 57 seconds left in the period, earning a double minor.
Boston Bruins’ Taylor Hall (71) moves the puck away from Carolina Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho (20) during the first period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, May 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
The B’s held a 11-10 shot advantage in the first, but they were facing 3:03 of penalty kill to start the second.
Thanks to an overly deliberate approach on the lengthy power play, the B’s were able to kill off the double minor, but just 11 seconds after Hall stepped back on the ice, the Canes scored a backbreaking goal at 3:14.
Brady Skjei flipped a puck toward the slot that bounced off of Jordan Staal in front and dribbled to the right of Swayman, who had come out to play the original shot. Domi sneaked in behind him to pop the rebound in.
But the B’s did get one back quickly at 5:04. Bergeron won a puck along the left wall and fired it into the slot, where Charlie McAvoy deflected it to Jake DeBrusk, who beat Raanta with a one-timer.
Then midway through the period, the Bruins nearly tied it, then fell back down by two in a matter of seconds.
First, Trent Frederic beat Raanta with a wrist shot but he clanged the post and the Hurricanes came right back down and scored. Teravainen got a feed through Frederic for Domi in the slot for a one-timer goal at 10:33 and the B’s were right back in dire straights.
With the times desperate, coach Bruce Cassidy tried loading up by reuniting David Pastrnak with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Frederic also found himself on the pine.
But after the line changes did not pay immediate dividends, Cassidy then dropped Pastrnak back down with Hall and Haula.
The B’s then had 20 minutes to score twice on one of the best defensive teams in the league to score two goals.
Their best chance in the third came on a 2-on-1 midway through the period, but Charlie Coyle (minus-3 through two periods) could not settle the puck and get a shot on net. The B’s also got their first power play with 6:27 left but, but then, the Canes were not about to give the B’s any oxygen.
Pastrnak’s goal gave them some brief life late and they managed some chances, but they cold not pull even.