Bruins

‘There’s no doubt about it’: Bruce Cassidy emphasizes ‘timely’ plays for Bruins after going down 2-0 to Hurricanes

The Bruins have scored just three goals through the first two games.

Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark allowed four goals in Game 2. Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

It’s no secret that the Bruins are struggling through the first two games of their first-round series against the Hurricanes.

Boston went down 2-0 in the series on Wednesday, losing 5-2 in Game 2.

Game 2 brought some added pain for the Bruins. The Hurricanes, who are already without regular starting goalie Frederik Andersen, lost their starting goalie Antti Raanta less than 10 minutes into Game 2 following a collision with David Pastrnak. Raanta’s departure meant Carolina’s third-string goalie and 22-year-old Pyotr Kochetkov, who had just three NHL games under his belt entering Wednesday, would be thrown into a high-pressure situation.

The Bruins weren’t able to capitalize, though. They failed to score in the first 30 minutes again, not getting on the board until Patrice Bergeron’s second-period goal made it 3-1.

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Bergeron added the Bruins’ second goal of the game in the third, too. But it didn’t matter as the goal cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 4-2 with less than eight minutes of the game.

Two power-play goals by the Hurricanes were the difference after Bergeron’s second goal. Both goals were either on a 5-on-3 or just moments after a 5-on-3 ended.

With Bergeron’s first goal, Boston was able to shake off some of those recent power-play demons they’ve had. But after Kochetkov made 30 saves and Bruins starter Linus Ullmark made just 29 of 33, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy admitted his team needs to make some more clutch plays.

“We need a timely save. There’s no doubt about it,” Cassidy said. “I mean, we got better — we’re closer to scoring. We scored a couple. The young kid (Kochetkov) did a real good job, but we’ve got to have more than two. For me, it’s not too little, too late because you’re not onto the next city – it’s the same series. Once you start getting some confidence and knowing you can score, the other team realizes that too.

“But we’re still going to need some timely saves when the time gets shifted like they got early on and late the other night. We finished better than we did the other night and that’s got to continue as well.

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“For me, it’s a little bit of both ends. It’s not a lot of structure on each side that I find has led to advantages in play. Their special teams were good tonight. I thought our power play was better produced. And then, it comes down to discipline. We were in the box a lot tonight and we’ve got to see what was warranted and what wasn’t, but that can’t continue either.”

BRUINS-HURRICANES

One of those “undisciplined” moments for the Bruins came early on. Pastrank’s collision that knocked Raanta out of the game came during Boston’s second power play of the night, wasting an opportunity as he was called for goalie interference.

Cassidy stuck up for his player on the play.

“It’s David Pastrnak. We’re on the power play. He’s trying to chase down the puck. Do you think his intention was there? That’s why they changed it from a five[-minute major] to a two-[minute minor],” Cassidy said. “His foot caught his pad. He was trying to clear his pad. So, I don’t think there was any intent there at all.”

Pastrnak hasn’t had the best start to the series. The Bruins’ leading goal-scorer has failed to register a point through the first two games. He’s also made some sloppy plays and errors on the power play, making life a bit more difficult for Boston.

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Cassidy said that Pastrnak is just going to have to battle through whatever attention and pressure the Hurricanes give him.

“I think he gets targeted whether he goes near their goalie or not,” Cassidy said. “He’s one of our best players. They’re going to go after him, and he’s hurt them in the past. …You’re going to try and let them know to keep your head up because it’s a long-term series type of messaging. That’s what happens in any series when you lose a guy.

“David’s just going to have to play through it. He’s a star in this league. That’s what happens. He’s a star in this league and he’s going to have to play through some of the physicality, maybe the threat of intimidation. Whatever’s going on out there he’s going to have to play through it. All the good players in this league do.”

Of course, when your team’s scored just three goals through two games, that means more than one player’s struggled. Two players (Bergeron and Taylor Hall) are responsible for those goals. Brad Marchand and Erik Haula are the only other Bruins forwards to have a point, with each having just one assist.

Cassidy challenged all four lines to step up and find different ways to score while also saying he needed to tell his guys to play with a bit more urgency.

“I think we can attack their D more and force them to defend,” Cassidy said. “We do have some elite offensive players. When we talk about timely goals, we need a little more of that — that our high-end guys need to be willing to attack a little more and see if we can break them down coming through the neutral zone.

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“They have very good gaps. They’re a very mobile team. Again, I’ll repeat that they’re a good defensive team but we still have to find ways to create. Some of it will be on our skill guys to use their speed and ability to create something for themselves. The other lines have to be a little more direct and win a race, get it into the dirty area and score some of those muckers’ goals. We need a little more from both ends of the lineup.”

Bergeron didn’t disagree with his coach’s assessment.

“If you’re not able to get that speed then they’re right on top of you, so obviously you’re going to trip the puck or dump it in,” Bergeron said. “It’s tough to do what you’re trying to accomplish in that neutral zone.

“We’ve got to go back to being a unit of five with the puck and going through the neutral zone with speed but also take what’s there.”

Boston heads home for Game 3 on Friday. Bergeron said he does like some of the progress for the Bruins through the first two games, but acknowledges that they’re still down 2-0.

“There were a lot of pockets in the game where we had a lot of pressure, good shifts, and good chances. I thought the same thing with Game 1,” Bergeron said. “That being said, you want results this time of year. You want to build through some of the good things we’ve done and improve at some of the things we know we can be better as a group and as a team and be ready for Game 3.”

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