The Boston Bruins earned themselves a seventh game with another dominating performance at home.
The problem: The clincher will be at Carolina, where the Hurricanes have been just as unbeatable.
“Everybody loves a Game 7,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said after the Bruins won 5-2 on Thursday night to even their first-round playoff series against Carolina at three games apiece. “We’d rather be at home, I’m not going to lie to you.
“But we’d play them on Mars if we had to.”
Jeremy Swayman stopped 23 shots, and Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist for Boston in the sixth straight blowout for the home team. Charlie Coyle also had a goal and an assist for Boston, and Erik Haula and Derek Forbort added third-period goals before Curtis Lazar backhanded the puck into the empty net with 4:17 to play to make it 5-1.
“We’ve got to win, now, one road game. That’s in front of us,” Cassidy said. “We knew that when we started, we’d have to win at least one to advance. So here it is.”
The Hurricanes will host Game 7 on Saturday in Raleigh, where they have gone 3-0 by a combined score of 15-4. The winner will play either the Penguins or Rangers in the Eastern Conference semi-finals; Pittsburgh leads that series 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Friday night.
“The good news is we have another game to play,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Right now, it’s tough. You should feel brutal, to be honest with you. And then you wake up, and you feel excited that you have an opportunity.”
Two days after losing 5-1 at Carolina, the Bruins returned home and put up an equally one-sided performance.
Andrei Svechnikov scored twice and Antti Raanta made 29 saves for the Hurricanes. Neither Swayman, a rookie, nor Raanta has ever appeared in a seventh game.
“I can’t wait,” said Swayman, who took over as starter after Linus Ullmark lost the first two games in Carolina. “It’s Game 7. We’re extremely excited. ... It’s a fun atmosphere to be a part of. Couldn’t ask for much more.”
Marchand broke a scoreless tie 46 seconds into the second period, taking a long cross-ice pass from Connor Clifton and skating to the right circle before wristing it over Raanta’s glove.
Coyle gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the last two minutes of the period, poking in the trickling rebound of David Pastrnak’s one-timer. Svechnikov made it a one-goal game early in the third before Haula and Forbort gave Boston back its cushion.
Svechnikov’s second goal came with 2:30 left during a power play for a double minor to Marchand for spearing.
The game could be the last at the TD Garden for future Hall of Famer Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins captain is unsigned for next year and has declined to talk about his future during the season.
In an 18-year career, all of it with Boston, Bergeron has scored 400 goals with 582 assists and won the Selke Award as the best two-way forward four times. He won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and went to the Final two other times.
After top defenceman Charlie McAvoy returned for Game 5 after he missed just one game in the COVID-19 protocol, No. 2 blue liner Hampus Lindholm returned for Game 6. He hadn’t played since showing signs of a concussion in Game 2.
Lindholm led all players in ice time with 24 minutes, 48 seconds.
“Watching hockey is not something I’ve ever been good at,” he said. “Super happy to be out there.”
Tomas Nosek had two assists for Boston. ... Carolina scored once on six power-play opportunities, with Boston killing a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period. The Bruins were 1 for 3.