Bergeron's 2OT winner lifts Bruins in NHL playoff opener

Montreal (AFP) –


Boston's Patrice Bergeron scored 1:13 into the second over-time period Wednesday to give the Bruins a 4-3 National Hockey League victory over Carolina in a postponed playoff game.

It was the first triumph in four games in the Eastern Conference bubble at Toronto for the Bruins, who led the NHL in wins and points when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season on March 12.

Boston went winless in three seeding games before the playoffs, leaving them as only a fourth seed despite their strong regular-season effort.

Then they had to wait an extra day to play the Hurricanes as they both watched Tampa Bay defeat Columbus in five over-times on Tuesday, a six-hour marathon that became the fourth-longest game in NHL history and prompted officials to move the Boston-Carolina matchup to the next morning.

When that game went past the first over-time, the Bruins pondered how long they might have to go in their best-of-seven first-round series opener.

"We talked about trying to end this before the fifth over-time, so very happy about that," Bergeron said.

"A lot of great things from our team. We're getting better from one game to the next. We've got to keep doing the little things to help us win. It's all about the wins."

David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle and David Krejci scored in regulation time for the Bruins, who also had 25 saves from goaltender Tuukka Rask.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour was steaming after the game over his failed challenge of Coyle's second-period goal, which looked like a hand pass.

The league ruling was that Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek controlled the puck, negating the hand pass, but Brind'Amour was irked that the call on the ice was unclear -- which he said led to his unsuccessful challenge.

"This is why the league's a joke, in my opinion, on these things," Brind'Amour told the News & Observer newspaper -- comments that drew a swift $25,000 fine from the league.

Joel Edmundson, Brock McGinn and Haydn Fleury scored for the Hurricanes, who will try to level the series on Thursday.

Elsewhere in the East, Jakub Voracek and Joel Farabee scored and Carter Hart made 27 saves for the Philadelphia Flyers in a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

And the New York Islanders scored three unanswered goals in the third period to defeat Washington 4-2.

The Colorado Avalanche scored three goals in the space of 1min 23sec in the third period in a 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes in their Western Conference opener in Edmonton.

Mikko Rantanen, J.T. Compher and Nazem Kadri scored, and Philipp Grubauer made 14 saves for the second-seeded Avs.

And the Vancouver Canucks pulled away with three goals in the third period for a 5-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.