RALEIGH, N.C. — Bruce Cassidy had every reason to be candid as he strode up to the podium back on May 7.
The Bruins had just punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2013 — besting the Blue Jackets on their home ice at Nationwide Arena by a score of 3-0. The victory improved Boston’s record away from TD Garden to 4-2 this postseason, with Boston negating cannon blasts, a deluge of social-media venom delivered by Maple Leafs fans and more roadblocks en route to a trip to the conference final.
The recipe for Boston’s success in enemy territory during this playoff run? Cassidy was blunt.
“I hear people saying, they come into another team’s building – well, we gotta weather the storm,” Cassidy said. “Well, we want to create the storm.”
How fitting is it then, that the club standing in Boston's way for the right to compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup preaches the same mantra when they take to the ice.
The “Storm Surge’ might be in the rearview mirror for the Hurricanes, but Carolina’s smash-mouth, fast-paced style of play remains as an omnipresent feature at PNC Arena — a venue where the parking lot resembles an SEC football tailgate, and the Hurricanes were 5-0 this postseason, entering Game 3 against Boston.
Still, for all of the bells and whistles (and sirens) that Carolina rolls out in front of a raucous home crowd, Charlie McAvoy believes that the Bruins might have had first dibs when it comes to trademarking a “storm”-centered catchphrase.
“It’s funny how ... it has the whole play on words, with them being the Hurricanes, but that’s kind of been our thing all along,” McAvoy said. “It’s nothing new for us. You never want to say, alright, let’s get out there and weather it for a bit. … You want to throw that first punch.”
Boston did indeed land the first punch on Tuesday night, with Patrice Bergeron wristing a puck on goal against Curtis McElhinney just 1:19 into the contest.
Perhaps a light jab might be the better descriptor. What Carolina countered with was a haymaker — and plenty of them, to boot.
Stuck in an 0-2 hole in a best-of-seven series, the Hurricanes pounced early and often over the opening minutes of play — peppering Tuukka Rask with the next 11 shots on goal of the game over a span of just 3:54.
The tempest that the ‘Canes have boasted of all season long was here, and the Bruins were searching for any port in a storm.
Thankfully, they found it both in net and on a penalty-kill unit that saw 12 different skaters log shorthanded shifts.