If Hurricanes-Bruins Game 1 is any indication, this will be one heck of a series

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Hurricanes fall to Bruins in game 1

Check out photos from game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoff series between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins.

Check out photos from game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoff series between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins tore out of the TD Garden tunnel going 100 miles per hour Thursday night, lapping the Hurricanes across the first 10 minutes of the first game of this Eastern Conference Final like a varsity squad playing the jayvee.

Carolina stormed back like the hurricane they’re named for, swamping the Bruins with their relentless brand of fast-moving hockey, their fresh legs carrying them past, through and around the home team.

Back and forth it went like that for a full 60 minutes, spurts of dominance by one side countered by stretches of strength by the other, a 5-2 final victory by the Bruins barely able to convey the madness contained within.

If this is what Game 1 had in store, then let’s go the distance.

If Thursday night’s antics are any indication, then this series has the potential to be wildly entertaining.

As statistically lopsided as the final score ended up, the game was anything but.

Forget those laments about the first-round oustings of top-seed and President’s Trophy winner Tampa Bay and fun-loving defending champion Washington and replace them with the excitement over what this evenly-matched, intensely played series can be.

The NHL has to be salivating over the possibility it goes the full seven because given what we saw in Game 1, a Game 7 would be insane.

Start with an early Boston lead thanks to the torrid start and a goal from unlikely source Steven Kampfer, in the lineup in place of suspended starter defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Go to the alarmingly short-lived existence of said early 1-0 lead, gone in 47 seconds thanks to an ill-timed penalty and a Carolina power-play score from Sebastian Aho at 3:42 of the first period.

Move to the one-goal second-period lead by Carolina, earned after goalie Tuukka Rask was tackled into his own net, knocking it off its moorings (but only after the puck had crossed the line, negating any potential interference). Mark the breadth of a second period that was completely owned by Carolina and could have resulted in a much bigger advantage if not for the ongoing stinginess of Rask, who made 29 saves and turned himself into a brick wall one more time this postseason. Appreciate how that ongoing brilliance in net was never more needed than across another listless second period for the Bruins, and how it kept them in the game long enough for a third-period, four-goal explosion they won’t soon forget.

Take two early power plays that led to two crucial goals, a tying one from Marcus Johansson and a go-ahead one from Patrice Bergeron, and see a game-winning combination that set the stage for two more Bruins’ goals, an empty-netter from Charlie Coyle at 17:47 and an even-strength capper from Chris Wagner 11 seconds later.

“They had their period and we had ours, the first was pretty even,” Rask said afterwards, reflecting on the night’s roller coaster. “I’d like to take all three, but it was good the way we took the third. We realized after the second period we needed to play harder. I think it helped that we got the power plays, got the game tied and got the lead. After that momentum was on our side.”

From the moment the lights went down and the yellow towels went airborne, the Bruins were intent on riding the wave of victory that brought them home from a Game 6 second-round win in Columbus. Much the way they won that game, by firing on all cylinders from the opening puck drop, they came to play when this one started, backing up the same words their coach Bruce Cassidy had said after the series-clinching win over the Blue Jackets, when he described his Bruins as a team that doesn’t look to “weather the storm,” but wants “to create the storm.”

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“We want to go out and let them know we’re here to play, be aggressive and assertive.”

That’s how they started out Thursday, but after the toll of two long series — seven games against Toronto and six against Columbus — and against a team fresh as daisies after sweeping the Islanders in the second round, the Bruins ran out of gas. The second period turned into a game of chasing Carolina, of looking to fight an opposing player over fighting for the puck, of reaching and trailing and gasping and flailing.

Full credit to the quick-skating, well-rested Hurricanes, who made the Bruins fight for every inch of open space, who raced around the ice like they owned it, heading into the third period confident in their 2-1 lead.

“No one was really happy after the second, we talked about it internally, I’m not going to tell you what was said, but we’re not too happy about our second periods, it’s been a bit of an issue for us,” Cassidy said. “Guys they know it, they got to dig in. It’s just the way it is. It’s not magical, you got to out-will a guy on the puck. You take their second goal; we lost four puck battles continually on their way up the ice. They won four, put it that way.

“We have to do more of that and we did. On those (power play) goals, we won some pucks.”

It was as if they’d filled those empty tanks.

“Well I think you see every round starts with Game 1 and the teams are making adjustments as the game goes on and as the series goes on,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “You could tell both teams were testing the waters and it was quickly full on.”

Said Wagner: “I thought we were better in the first then we were in the second to be honest, we were getting chances really early and then we backed off. They woke up and started playing harder. We came in here and talked about how we didn’t want to waste one at home and we successfully didn’t do that in the third.”

A wild night for sure. A wild series? Let’s hope so.

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