The Boston Bruins are one win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive season.
The B's overcame a 2-0 third period deficit with four unanswered goals and ultimately earned a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Monday night's Game 4 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The victory gives Boston a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Hurricanes goalie James Reimer has seen this movie before. This isn't the first time he's watched his team blow a lead against the Bruins and lose a playoff game. It happened a few times in 2013, most notably in Game 7 of the first round when Remier and the Toronto Maple Leafs gave up a 4-1 third period lead and lost 5-4 in overtime.
Here are three takeaways from Game 4.
1. B's totally dominated third period The Bruins were so much better than the Hurricanes in the final 20 minutes that it seemed like they played with an extra skater.
Here's a look at the stats from the third period (via Natural Stat Trick).
Goals: 4-1 Bruins Shot attempts: 27-9 Bruins Shots on net: 16-2 Bruins Scoring chances: 11-5 Bruins High-danger scoring chances: 6-1 Bruins
At one point, the Bruins had a 15-0 edge in shots on net during the third period. They scored on four of those shots in a 6:51 stretch to take the lead.
The Bruins have a lot more playoff experience than the Hurricanes and it showed in the third period. Boston's best players stepped up when the game was on the line and Carolina was unable to slow that momentum.
2. Jake DeBrusk breaks out of slump DeBrusk had been knocking at the door throughout this first round series and he finally broke through in Game 4.
The 23-year-old left winger scored twice in the third period. His first tally got the Bruins on the board after a tremendous effort to win the race to the puck, evade oncoming Hurricanes goalie James Reimer and score while diving to the ice.
DeBrusk put the B's up 4-2 with a goal that finished a beautiful passing sequence including linemates David Krejci and Ondrej Kase.
DeBrusk's offensive production is a very welcomed development for the Bruins. They're going to need secondary scoring from him throughout the playoffs, especially while superstar winger David Pastrnak is out of the lineup due to injury. DeBrusk had scored only two goals in his previous 20 games dating back to the regular season.
3. Jaroslav Halak must be better Jaroslav Halak's performance in Game 3 was subpar.
He gave up two soft goals, one in the first period and another in the second period, that put Boston in a 2-0 hole. He also allowed a goal in the third period on what looked like a pass attempt from Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen. Overall, Halak surrendered three goals on just 19 shots against.
"I think they're both pucks he typically saves," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the first two goals Halak gave up. "Both stoppable pucks, certainly the first one. The second one, the guy's coming in with some speed, so maybe there's some options that Jaro's gotta be careful he doesn't come too far and challenge -- (Jordan) Martinook can really skate. At the end of the day, we kept playing. You've got to play through some stuff. These guys in the locker room know you win as a team and lose as a team. I'm sure they wanted to pick Jaro up and eventually the puck bounced our way. Hopefully we'll get some work in tomorrow and get a little sharper for Game 5."
Halak is fully capable of being a reliable goaltender in the playoffs -- we saw that in Game 3 when he played fantastic in Boston's win just hours after starting netminder Tuukka Rask announced his decision to opt out of the postseason. However, there will be games from time to time where the goaltending isn't great, and the Bruins will need to depend on their scoring depth to overcome that. Game 4 was a good example of the Bruins picking up their goaltender and winning a game they easily could have lost.