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Brad Marchand raced toward the empty net, and there was nothing Carolina defenseman Tony DeAngelo could do except throw his stick at the puck. Forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi shattered his across the goal in frustration.
It’s the playoffs, and Marchand is at his best — scoring, passing and getting under his opponent’s skin.
“It’s a time he loves to play, and he shows it,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after Marchand’s two-goal, three-assist game in Boston’s 5-2 Game 4 victory over the Hurricanes on Sunday tied the first-round playoff series at 2.
“There’s some chirping going on now, too,” Cassidy said. “And I think that can elevate his game, as well.”
Patrice Bergeron had a goal and two assists and drew a high-sticking double minor from Sebastian Aho at the end of the second period that gave the Bruins a 5-on-3 and left their captain with a black eye and several stitches.
Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand (63) celebrates with teammates after scoring in the third period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Sixty-eight seconds after the penalty, and 44 seconds into the third period, Marchand scored to break a 2-2 tie.
Rookie Jeremy Swayman made 23 saves for his second straight win, and David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist.
The series returns to Carolina for Game 5 on Tuesday night.
“It starts over now. We just regroup,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “You should have a little emotion right now. It should hurt, and it should bother you and then tomorrow you start fresh.”
And now, the Bruins are assured a Game 6 in Boston on Thursday.
“This is what every kid’s kind of hoping — to get that opportunity playing for that Cup,” Marchand said. “These are the most fun games to play in, when there’s high emotion, high intensity and the most is on the line. If you can’t play in these games, I don’t know what you’re playing for.”
Jake DeBrusk also scored for the Bruins, who scratched top defenseman Charlie McAvoy after he went into the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol about an hour before the opening faceoff. No. 2 defenseman Hampus Lindholm has been out since a hit to the head in Game 2.
“We’re playing for our season,” Marchand said. “It’s really tough when you lose guys like that, but here’s a lot of pride in the room, a lot of character We’ve always shown that.”
Brett Pesce and Jordan Staal scored for Carolina, and Antti Raanta returned to stop 23 shots for the Metropolitan Division champions.
Pesce gave Carolina the lead six minutes into the game, the fourth straight time the Hurricanes have scored first — the seventh time, if you count their three regular-season wins over Boston.
But Bergeron tied it with four minutes to play in the first period when he slid a loose puck through Raanta’s legs. Just 33 seconds into the second period, Nino Niederreiter backhanded it out to Staal for the one-timer that gave Carolina a 2-1 lead.
In the last 90 seconds of the second period, Marchand backhanded the puck into Raanta and it wound up in the crease just sitting there for DeBrusk to clean up.
Brind’Amour challenged for goalie interference, but the call stood. That gave Boston a power play, and it became a 5-on-3 when Aho cut Bergeron’s eye.
Boston still had 44 seconds on the 5-on-3 and 2:58 after that on the double-minor when the third period started. With one second left in the two-man advantage, Marchand wristed one into the net to give Boston its first lead of the day.
Pastrnak added an insurance goal five minutes later, and Marchand put in an empty-netter.
Raanta left in the first period of the second game after a collision with Pastrnak. Pyotr Kochetkov relieved him and picked up the win in Game 2 as the Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead in the series.
But the Bruins beat Kochetkov 4-2 on Friday night, and Raanta was back for Game 4.
Marchand’s first goal was so close to the end of the 5-on-3 that the officials had to check whether the first penalty had expired. At issue was whether the Bruins would get the full advantage of the double-minor to Aho (if the goal came at 43 seconds), or if it would be chopped down to the last 2 minutes (if the goal came at 44 seconds).
After a review, it was determined to come at the 43-second mark of the period, meaning Boston still had 2:53 of a power play. That was erased by a high-sticking call on Matt Grzelcyk about two minutes later.
McAvoy was scratched less than an hour before the opening faceoff and placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
“We knew this morning that something might be amiss, found out this morning that he’s going into protocol,” Cassidy said. “Let’s hope Charlie comes out of it well, first of all, and feels fine and we get him back as soon as possible.”
Josh Brown, who appeared in six games for the Bruins after joining them from Ottawa at the trade deadline, was active instead.
A 24-year-old Boston University product who was taken in the first round of the 2016 draft, McAvoy had career-highs of 10 goals and 46 assists, leading all Bruins defensemen in scoring and with an average of 24 minutes, 39 seconds on the ice per game.
Lindholm, the team’s top trade deadline acquisition, left Game 2 showing signs of a concussion and has not returned.