The Boston Bruins must win Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden on Thursday night to save their season and force a Game 7.
The Bruins were pushed to the brink of elimination with a lackluster 5-1 loss at PNC Arena on Tuesday night.
The good news for the Bruins is they are back home, where they won Games 3 and 4 and outscored the Hurricanes 9-4, while also completely dominating on special teams. Boston went 10-for-10 on the penalty kill and scored four power-play goals in those two home games.
The Bruins were an excellent home team in the regular season and into the playoffs (28-13-2 overall). They have been a totally different group at the Garden during this series compared to Carolina, where the B's have been outscored 15-4 in three losses.
Will the Bruins extend their season by another game or start their summer vacation early? Here's a preview of Bruins-Hurricanes Game 6, including projected lineups, betting odds and more.
Several lineup changes for the Bruins
After a three-game absence, star defenseman Hampus Lindholm is back in the lineup and likely will play alongside Charlie McAvoy on Boston's top pairing. Lindholm suffered an upper body injury as a result of a huge hit from Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov in Game 2. His return to the ice will result in Matt Grzelcyk exiting the lineup. Grzelcyk has struggled in this series, particularly in Game 5, and the B's have been outscored 6-2 during the veteran defenseman's 5-on-5 minutes against the 'Canes.
The Bruins also are making changes up front.
Based on the lines at morning skate, Chris Wagner is coming out and Trent Frederic is back in. Frederic is more of a liability defensively but brings a similar physical presence and a little more offensive skill than Wagner. Head coach Bruce Cassidy also is breaking up the top line, putting David Pastrnak back down to the second line alongside Taylor Hall and Erik Haula. This trio enjoyed tremendous success over the second half of the regular season.
These lines (see them in full below) give the Bruins a little more balance. Boston also needs to get Hall going offensively, and putting Pastrnak on his line could jumpstart that improvement from the former MVP.
Bruins have to score first
The Hurricanes have played eight games against the Bruins including the regular season, and they have scored first every time. The 'Canes owned the league's third-best record (39-4-6) when scoring first in the regular season, and they are 3-2-0 in this series. Carolina is 45-1-0 when leading by multiple goals in any game this season, including a 3-0-0 mark in Round 1.
The only matchups where the Bruins didn't score first but still beat the Hurricanes were Game 3 and Game 4 in Boston last weekend. So, why couldn't they do it again in Game 6 at TD Garden? Well, the situation is a little different this time because Boston is now facing elimination. The pressure on the Bruins if they don't score first Thursday night will be immense.
The Hurricanes' style of play -- physical, aggressive forechecking, etc. -- is much tougher to deal with when they have a lead. The Bruins, for their own confidence and to get the crowd into the game early, need to score first and dictate the pace of the game right off the bat.
Brad Marchand--Patrice Bergeron--Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall--Erik Haula--David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic--Charlie Coyle--Craig Smith
Nick Foligno--Tomas Nosek--Curtis Lazar
Hampus Lindholm--Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly--Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort--Connor Clifton
Andrei Svechnikov--Sebastian Aho--Seth Jarvis
Teuvo Teravainen--Vincent Trocheck--Martin Necas
Nino Niederreiter--Jordan Staal--Jesper Fast
Max Domi--Jesperi Kotkaniemi--Derek Stepan
Jaccob Slavin--Tony DeAngelo
Brady Skjei--Brett Pesce
Brendan Smith--Ian Cole
Over/Under Total Goals
Over 6: +105
Under 6: -125
All lines via PointsBet
Bruins win 2-1