The Boston Bruins won their first game of the 2020 NHL playoffs in double overtime Wednesday, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3.
The game was initially supposed to be played Tuesday, but it was delayed after the prior game in the arena -- all games in the playoffs are being held in two Canadian cities this year to keep players safe from the coronavirus -- went into multiple overtimes as well. That game ended up being the fourth longest in NHL history, with the Tampa Bay Lightning scoring in the fifth period of overtime to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets.
After their game started at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena, the Bruins surrendered a goal after 13 minutes before taking 2-1 and 3-2 leads in the game behind goals from David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle and David Krejci. But the Hurricanes tied the game up with 10 minutes to go in the third period.
The first period of the sudden death overtime was scoreless, but Patrice Bergeron won the game for the Bruins just over a minute into the second overtime.
"We talked about trying to end this before the fifth overtime," Bergeron said.
The series is a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals, when Boston swept Carolina.
Boston lost all three of their round-robin seeding games for these playoffs while Carolina swept the New York Rangers in the play-in tournament.
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And while the Hurricanes' Joel Edmundson opened the scoring 13:02 into the first period, the Bruins recovered quickly, and the way Boston tied it was plenty familiar, its fearsome first line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak registering its first goal in their fourth game since the NHL's restart.
Bergeron won a faceoff to Marchand, who fed it to Pastrnak for the league-leading goal-scorer to finish it off at the 17:45 mark of the first.
"We're getting better from one game to the next. we've got to keep doing that, keep doing the little things to help our team," Bergeron said.
The Bruins took their first lead in the fourth game they're playing when Charlie Coyle scored 4:38 into the second. But goaltender Petr Mrazek was livid, and coach Rod Brind'Amour challenged for what the Hurricanes thought was a missed hand pass by Boston's Brett Ritchie.
Officials and the NHL's situation room ruled that Mrazek trying to cover the puck negated the hand pass. On the ice, no whistle was blown for Mrazek freezing the play, so Coyle poking it out and scoring was allowed.
Carolina was penalized for the failed challenge, but Boston's lead lasted just 11 seconds before Brock McGinn scored short-handed. David Krejci put the Bruins ahead 59 seconds into the third, and that lead held up less than nine minutes before Hurricanes defenseman Haydn Fluery beat Tuukka Rask from long distance with a shot from just inside the blue line.
Then this became the sixth game of the past 11 in these playoffs to go to overtime. A video screen inside the arena flashed the message, "Deja Vu?" minutes into OT.
But this game was far from the same as Columbus-Tampa Bay, notably because the Hurricanes and Bruins were primed to play at night and had to regroup for a matinee.
"It was strange," Marchand said, "but it just kind of goes hand in hand with this whole thing."
Also part of this whole thing is a league policy of not disclosing injuries, which allowed Carolina to hide the surprise absences of winger Justin Williams and defenseman Sami Vatanen despite not having played in eight days. Williams instead watched nervously from the stands.