The question was about the frustration and how much the Carolina Hurricanes were causing the Boston Bruins.
Bruins forward David Pastrnak had an answer on Friday.
“There’s no time for frustration in the playoffs,” Pastrnak said. “You have to suck it. They are a good team and we know it. We have to prove it.
This response from Pastrnak came after the Bruins’ morning practice ahead of Game 3 of their first-round playoff series with the Canes. A more resounding response came later from the Bruins, who won 4-2 at TD Garden.
After losing the first two games of the best-of-seven series, the Bruins were pretty much in a win-or-else situation. The Canes had outclassed them 10-3 in both games at the PNC Arena. They were finishing checks, finishing scoring chances, doing all the things, big and small, that made them champions of the Metropolitan Division.
But the Bruins’ pushback game on Friday once they return to home ice, will make for a still intriguing fourth game on Sunday at TD Garden. Pastrnak and the Bruins’ other top guns have delivered, especially on special teams, and now the question is whether there will be more of the same Sunday, or will the Canes be the team to regroup and respond ?
The series will return to Raleigh tied 2-2 or with the Canes leading 3-1. Game 4 is so important.
Canes defenseman Brendan Smith, bloodied Friday after taking a big hit along the boards from Connor Clifton, said no one expected the Stanley Cup playoffs to go smoothly.
“And it never will be,” Smith said. “And that’s where you have to fight your adversity. … That’s why, in my opinion, it’s the most difficult trophy to win. It’s so difficult and everything has to be like a well-oiled machine.
The Canes’ power play often feels like an oil leak, in a way, and especially on Friday. Not only did the Hurricanes go 0-5 on the power play, but they allowed a first-period shorthanded goal to Charlie Coyle of the Bruins, which tied the game and changed everything.
“It was tough for us tonight, the difference in the game, obviously,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Brind’Amour had no problems with rookie goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov, who made his first playoff start on Friday and made 24 saves. He had no problems with the Canes’ 5-on-5 play, which produced goals from Vincent Trocheck first and then Jaccob Slavin in third.
“We clearly know what the problem is,” Brind’Amour said. “We had a decent first period and then our power play gave up the shortie and they got some life out of it.”
The Canes, who went on the league’s best penalty kill in the regular season, also allowed two goals as the Bruins went 2-for-5 on the power play. The first, by Pastrnak, came after Boston couldn’t score on 91 seconds from a 5-on-3 advantage – Canes Brett Pesce and Slavin both blocked shots – but then converted with the advantage of man.
“If you give their best guys too many looks, they’re going to make you pay,” Brind’Amour said.
If anything needs to change for the Canes on Friday, it’s the play of their first power-play unit – Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen, Vincent Trocheck and Tony DeAngelo. The skill is there, the puck handling is there. Execution is gone.
“It’s our job to build momentum and we haven’t done a good enough job,” Aho said.
To which Brind’Amour added: “The best guys have to be better. It’s so easy.”
The depth of the rods on offense will help on Sunday. Jordan Martinook was injured in the second period – “He looked pretty tough in there,” Brind’Amour said after the game – and is questionable for Game 4. Derek Stepan or Steven Lorentz will likely be in the roster for the first time in the playoffs.