While the Boston Bruins' season won't be over with a loss in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference playoff series on Friday night vs. the Carolina Hurricanes, it's definitely on the line with the B's down 0-2 as the series shifts to Beantown. Boston will make a change in net and go with rookie Jeremy Swayman, while it's not clear whether it will be Antti Raanta or rookie Pyotr Kochetkov for Carolina. The Bruins are -135 favorites at Caesars Sportsbook.
Linus Ullmark started the first two games of this series in North Carolina and the Bruins were beaten by a combined score of 10-3. He was responsible for eight goals on 57 shots for a 4.16 goals-against average and .860 save percentage. Not good. Thus, no surprise that Coach Bruce Cassidy is switching to Swayman, who was 23-14-3 with a 2.41 GAA and .914 save percentage in the regular season – he and Ullmark played exactly 41 games each and their numbers were nearly identical.
Swayman did struggle in April, though, going 4-5-0 with a 3.05 GAA and .889 SV. He allowed at least three goals in his final three starts. The 23-year-old was worse at home with a 2.81 GAA compared to 2.08 on the road. Friday will be his first career playoff start, but he did play about 18 minutes in relief of Tuukka Rask last year in a loss to the Islanders and allowed a goal on three shots. Swayman's lone regular-season game vs. Carolina was way back on Oct. 28 in Raleigh when he allowed two goals in a loss.
Boston will be down a key defender in Hampus Lindholm, a March trade acquisition from Anaheim. He took a big hit from Carolina's Andrei Svechnikov during the second period of Wednesday's loss and didn't return. Mike Reilly is likely to take his spot. Cassidy said there could also be some changes to the forward group for Game 3.
Hurricanes No. 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen has missed a handful of weeks and isn't close to a return. Raanta started the first two games of this series and played great in stopping 41 of 42 combined shots. He left in the first period Wednesday after Bruins forward David Pastrnak ran him over in the crease. Raanta was bleeding from the mouth when he left the ice but did not enter concussion protocol and was able to work out Thursday. Coach Rod Brind'Amour said his availability for Game 3 had yet to be determined and that Raanta wasn't 100 percent.
With a 2-0 lead, it does seem more likely that it will be the 22-year-old Kochetkov, who saw action in just three regular-season games (3-0-0, 2.42 GAA) but stopped 30 of 32 shots in relief of Raanta in Game 2. Kochetkov became the third-youngest goaltender in franchise history at the time of his Stanley Cup playoff debut.
We should have an idea which goaltender by around noon ET after the morning skate. Carolina is not just 5-0 against Boston this season including playoffs but has yet to trail in a game against the B's.
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