By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Patrice Bergeron may not be the single best hockey player in any one particular area, but he’s among the very best at just about everything. As a result, he’s earned a reputation as the perfect player.
You never know quite when that is going to show itself. And neither did the Carolina Hurricanes.
As a result, their season is over.
With just seconds remaining in the second period of a 1-1 game on Wednesday, Bergeron scored a goal that changed the game and — more or less — ended the series.
With the Bruins on the power play, Bergeron skated from in front of the net toward the end boards to retrieve a rebound. With a subtle look over his shoulder to trick everyone into thinking he’d be sending a pass to a teammate, Bergeron instead rapidly spun and fired the puck toward Petr Mrazek’s feet.
The Carolina netminder did not see that one coming, and as a result the puck kicked in off his lower body and into the net.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) August 19, 2020
Bergeron explained his thinking, figuring there wasn’t much else worth trying with so little time left on the clock.
“I saw that [Mrazek] was kind of — he stood up. He was standing up. So, I was just trying to catch him, throw it at his feet and see what happens,” Bergeron said. “I knew that there wasn’t that much time left in the period. So, I said, why not try it? Just because it was kind of a desperate play with a couple seconds left. I knew we couldn’t really set it up and have another shot, so I was just trying to put it on net and catch him standing up.”
Bergeron said he usually wouldn’t rely on a shot from that angle, admitting that he required a lucky bounce to get it across the goal line.
“Usually not. If you’re at the start of a power play, if you have time, if the clock is not winding down, you’re trying to keep the possession and keep the play going,” he explained. “On that one with a few seconds left, I was just trying to, again, put it on net. Like I said, as I looked, I saw he was standing up and I was just trying to throw it on his feet. We got lucky on that one and I’ll take it.”
The goal — which crossed the line with less than 4 seconds left in the second period — was huge, completely altering the collective psyche of the Hurricanes as they entered the third period while now staring elimination in the face.
From an IMPOSSIBLE ANGLE!
— #StanleyCup Playoffs on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) August 19, 2020
It will come as no surprise to those who watch Bergeron closely on a regular basis that this was all made possible by a diving play by Bergeron to keep possession in the offensive zone.
Bergeron — who assisted on David Krejci’s goal earlier in the period, which was scored on a penalty drawn by Bergeron — let out a smile after that one.
The goal was Bergeron’s second of the postseason, during which he has six points in eight games played.
It didn’t quite take all the wind out of Carolina’s sails, as the Hurricanes still managed to play a hard third period, despite the deficit. But the Bruins’ defensive play was suffocating, limiting the Hurricanes to just six shots on goal in the final 20 minutes.
As a result, the 2-1 lead held, the Bruins won, and the Hurricanes’ season was over, with Bergeron’s perfectly Bergeron-esque goal standing as the game-winner and series-clincher.