Bruins' quick-strike power play turns around Game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals

Scott McLaughlin
May 10, 2019 - 1:27 am

The Bruins power play hasn't always been smooth in these playoffs, but it has been pretty lethal.

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, it was a pair of power plays early in the third period that turned the game around, flipping a 2-1 Hurricanes lead to a 3-2 Bruins lead en route to an eventual 5-2 victory.

The 2-for-5 effort on the man advantage in Game 1 brought the Bruins up to a league-best 30 percent in the postseason.

The B's had one power play in each of the first two periods Thursday night and really didn't do much with them, recording just one shot on goal on each of them. Those power plays looked a lot like the ones that struggled to get anything going for much of the second round against Columbus, with sloppy entries, forced passes, turnovers, and just not enough movement in general.

But the Bruins power play has shown that it doesn't need a ton of offensive zone time or a long sequence of good-looking passing to score. It just needs one good look. Even in the first round against Toronto when the Bruins converted at a ridiculous 43.8 percent clip, their power plays weren't always the prettiest affairs. They might struggle to get set up, they might turn the puck over, but eventually they'd get a good look and capitalize.

Their first power-play goal Thursday night came with 23 seconds left on what to that point was looking like another fairly underwhelming effort, and it came after three members of the top power-play unit had just changed off. But the B's got Carolina scrambling a bit and David Krejci set up Brad Marchand for a one-timer that led to a rebound for Marcus Johansson to bury.

Johansson had been criticized by Mike Milbury during a game broadcast earlier in the playoffs for not being tough enough to play the net-front role on the power play -- "marshmallow soft" was the exact phrase used -- but Johansson looked anything but soft as he fought for the rebound and flipped it past Petr Mrazek.

The second power-play goal, which gave the Bruins the lead, came just 28 seconds later after Dougie Hamilton went to the box for roughing, a call the former Bruin disagreed with after the game.

Once again, it didn't come off a long cycle. It came 13 seconds into the power play after the Hurricanes failed to clear following a faceoff win. Torey Krug kept the puck in and fed Jake DeBrusk down low. From his knees, DeBrusk threw a pass across the net-front to Brad Marchand, who coolly passed on the shot himself in order to set up Patrice Bergeron for an even better look. 3-2 Bruins.

"We did get frustrated," coach Bruce Cassidy said of the Bruins' power plays earlier in the game. "We didn’t get in. We have to make some adjustments there. We talked about things you can do, but until you live it, it makes it difficult. But at the end of the day they're an experienced group. They know that we need them at that particular point.

"The power play was what was required because they took a few penalties, so it might be the penalty kill on Sunday that needs the big kill. So, I think our group’s been pretty good at identifying some key times in games throughout these playoffs. We got to step up, and that was one of them, a big goal for us, both of them really."

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