BOSTON — Matt Grzelcyk scored twice — his first career multigoal game — and Tuukka Rask made 21 saves to lead the Bruins to a 6-2 victory over Carolina on Sunday and give Boston a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Connor Clifton had his first career NHL goal — the 19th Boston player to score this postseason, tying a franchise record. Jake DeBrusk, David Backes and Danton Heinen also found the net, and Torey Krug and Charlie Coyle had three assists apiece.
“It does feel contagious,” said Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team won its fifth straight game and needs two more victories to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in nine seasons. “Everybody’s contributing.”
The series moves to Raleigh, N.C., for Game 3 on Tuesday.
“Sometimes you’ve got to eat a poop sandwich. It doesn’t taste good and you have to chew on it for a little bit,” Carolina captain Justin Williams said. “We’ll have to do it for a couple of days and get the taste out of our mouth next game.”
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Boston led 6-0 before the Hurricanes’ offense awoke. Williams and Teuvo Teravainen scored in the last nine minutes.
The Bruins are “playing their game,” said Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour, whose team lost the first two games against the Washington Capitals in the first round before eliminating the defending champions in seven. “We haven’t gotten to ours.”
Grzelcyk and DeBrusk scored late in the first, and Clifton made it 3-0 early in the second.
With two minutes left in the middle period and Boston on the power play, Heinen took a long pass out of the Boston zone from Marcus Johansson and drew two defenders with him before sliding it into the slot.
Grzelcyk slipped the puck over to his backhand and beat goalie Petr Mrazek to make it 4-0.
“That was the cooker,” Brind’Amour said. “We needed an answer and we didn’t have one.”
Backes scored 1:10 into the third period to make it 5-0, leaving Mrazek looking over to the bench to see if he would be replaced. Brind’Amour said Mrazek, who returned from an injury for Game 1 after Curtis McElhinney started the last two games of the East semifinals, had earned the right to stay in.
“We talked about it, but he doesn’t want to come out. He’s a battler,” Brind’Amour said. “A lot of other guys on the bench deserve to come out, if that’s how were doing it.”
Heinen finished on a feed from Patrice Bergeron to give Boston a six-goal lead with 15 minutes left before Williams got Carolina on the board.
“We’ve got to find our game,” Carolina center Jordan Staal said, “and stop making excuses for ourselves.”
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