The Bruins saved their best game for last.
After being relatively quiet for most of the series, Boston’s Big 3 was responsible for every goal and Tuukka Rask stopped everything that came his way as the Bruins blanked the Hurricanes 4–0 to cap a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference Final. Just a series after sweeping the Islanders, Carolina found itself on the losing end of a sweep which was a notable trend this postseason: No team that has pulled off a sweep has gone on to win its next series.
A scoreless first period saw Rask and Carolina goaltender Curtis McElhinney being tested, as well as a lot of unnecessary passing from the Bruins and a 13–10 shot advantage for the Hurricanes. But Boston simplified its offense in the second and special teams proved to be the Hurricanes' downfall yet again. The Bruins capitalized on two power-play opportunities in the middle frame, the first off a filthy no-look pass from Brad Marchand that David Pastrnak tapped in. Carolina had a chance to cut the deficit after an icing call, the long line change and extended zone pressure exhausted the Bruins, but the Hurricanes could only manage a couple shots. To make matters even worse, Gregg McKegg was called for goalie interference and Patrice Bergeron scored on the ensuing power play. Bergeron added an even-strength goal midway through the third to make it 3–0.
The Bruins allowed just four shots in the second period and only two in the third until Carolina pulled McElhinney for an extra skater with more than five minutes left. For as remarkable as Rask was in this series, Boston also found a way to help him out along the way. Marchand scored an empty-netter in the final minutes to put away the series and Boston will appear in its third Stanley Cup Final since 2011. The Bruins will enter the final on a seven-game winning streak and off a pretty lengthy rest as St. Louis and San Jose have at least two more games to declare a winner. The extended time off is surely welcome news for Zdeno Chara and Chris Wagner, as both did not play in Game 4.
And so the Hurricanes’ Cinderella run has seen its time come to an end, but it was a season that was nothing short of incredible. From the drastic midseason turnaround, to becoming everyone’s favorite bunch of jerks, to dramatically knocking out the defending Cup champions and then sweeping the defending Cup coach; it is a tough ending but Carolina has a lot to smile about, especially once it returns to full strength next year.
Now we wait for the Blues and Sharks to duke it out. Will it be Martin Jones or Jordan Binnington going head-to-head with Rask at the other end? Regardless of who it is, he better pray that Rask starts looking a little less bionic in the final.