(AP) — RALEIGH, N.C. Before making his first playoff start, Antti Raanta, a nine-year NHL veteran, couldn’t help but feel nervous.
There are undoubtedly occasional butterflies, according to Raanta.
The good news for the Carolina Hurricanes was that, based on the way the 32-year-old netminder patrolled the crease and stopped almost everything, nobody could tell.
On Monday night, in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, the Hurricanes defeated the Boston Bruins 5-1 thanks to goals from Seth Jarvis and Nino Niederreiter, as well as 35 saves from Raanta.
Raanta and the Hurricanes, who have lost two of the last three playoff series to the Bruins, had a bright start to the season. Carolina actually never took the lead in those opening two series in 2019 and 2020.
They’re going to start with a series lead this time.
Niederreiter stated, “I think the longer the game went on, the better we got going.”
In the opening game of this best-of-seven series, Carolina was able to maintain control thanks to goals from Teuvo Teravainen and Vincent Trocheck in the third period. At 17:59, Andrei Svechnikov scored an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
However, it all began with Raanta, who, prior to Monday, had only made five relief appearances in the playoffs. However, coach Rod Brind’Amour gave him the go-ahead because top goaltender Frederik Andersen is still sidelined due to an injury sustained in the final weeks of the regular season.
Raanta validated that belief, especially in the first ten minutes when the Bruins controlled the action and buzzed around the net with twelve shots.
Raanta explained, “For me, it was just trying to concentrate on the things, how I’ve been able to succeed, and what I’ve been doing to get here.” “It was functioning well, but it’s just one game, one victory.”
The defensemen for Carolina also provided assistance to him. During the first period, Brendan Smith stopped a loose rebound from going over the goal line behind Raanta by sticking his stick in. Ian Cole intervened in the third to prevent a puck from slipping past a diving Raanta and the left post.
This kind of play, coupled with a 3-point shooting performance from the league’s best penalty kill unit, enabled Carolina to neutralize Boston’s 36-25 shot advantage.
After Erik Haula fed him the ball during a scrum behind the net, Taylor Hall scored for Boston early in the third to trim the deficit to 2-1. A few minutes later, he pingged the left post and nearly tied it. However, those proved to be Raanta’s only true errors.
In his first postseason game, Linus Ullmark recorded 20 saves for Boston. Teravainen’s goal was the result of a skillfully executed 2-on-1 rush with Trocheck, while both of the second period goals were the result of heavy traffic at the crease.
To make it 4-1, Trocheck scored after making a strong run up the left side and bouncing the puck off Ullmark’s helmet with his left side.
Ullmark won’t be the target of anything, according to Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “In this series, you have to work hard to find pucks, no matter which goalie is starting for us. Early on, I believed it to be the same on the other end.
“We just didn’t capitalize, even though Raanta was battling to find them and there were some rebounds there.”
The 20-year-old rookie Jarvis now has his first playoff goal after finishing the regular season on a seven-game point streak.
Jaccob Slavin’s one-time puck into traffic was the catalyst. At 16:28, Jarvis tipped the puck with his stick, causing it to bounce to the ice and go past Ullmark.
Brind’Amour remarked, “I just don’t know how much (experience) matters at this time of year sometimes.” “The young man didn’t look uncomfortable; in fact, he looked good. Raants also had a fantastic appearance. So definitely check that box.
SWINGS WITH ONE SIDE
After the Bruins defeated the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals of 2019 and went on to win five games in the Toronto bubble’s first round the following year, history is on their side.
The Hurricanes, who lead the Metropolitan Division, have won all four of their meetings so far this season by a combined score of 21-2.
During a second-period stoppage, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was seen on the videoboard, laughing and waving while taking in some serious boos.
The team took the ice for the first period after retired Hurricanes captain Justin Williams activated the storm warning siren prior to the game. Kim and Penn Holderness, a Raleigh family that recently won CBS’s reality competition show “The Amazing Race,” followed for the second period.
Hubert Davis, the men’s basketball coach at North Carolina, was the third siren sounder. The Hurricanes share an arena with UNC rival North Carolina State, where the first-year coach of the Tar Heels led the team to the NCAA championship game and received a standing ovation.