The night the Bruins retired Eddie Shore’s No. 2 — on April 1, 1947 — they were pounded, 5-1, by the Canadiens. That was during a Stanley Cup semifinal series they’d eventually lose.
So, yes, Tuesday could have been more sour.
An astoundingly poor opening 20 minutes begat the Bruins’ most embarrassing loss of the season. The Hurricanes, revving their engines during a 14-minute ceremony to raise Willie O’Ree’s No. 22, raced to a 5-1 lead in the first period and peeled out of TD Garden with a 7-1 win.
Just when you thought the Bruins had become one of the NHL’s elite, one of the NHL’s elite showed them what that looks like. It’s a good thing O’Ree, stuck at home in San Diego because of the pandemic, wasn’t there to see it.
“We had nothing,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They were clearly better than us in every area … We weren’t nearly good enough. We wouldn’t have been good enough against the worst team in the league tonight. We weren’t competitive.”
The Bruins (22-12-2), who had won eight of nine coming in, ran up against the team that has given them the most trouble this season. The Hurricanes made them look soft and slow, winning puck battles all over the ice.
It was the most lopsided loss of the season for the Bruins, who gave up an 8-1 loss to the Capitals last April 11. The Bruins won six in a row, and 10 of their next 12, after that.
And the Hurricanes (26-8-2), for their part, lost, 6-0, to the weakling Blue Jackets five days before Tuesday. It happens to good teams.
But boy, was this a stinker. In light of their constant face-planting against a potential playoff opponent — now outscored, 10-1, in six periods against Carolina — it may be tough for the Bruins to burn Tuesday’s tape and move on.
“That was not our team,” said Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. “The last few weeks, we’ve all seen how good we can be, the steps forward that we’ve taken.
“It was very disappointing the way we played, the way we showed up, the way we started the game. It was flat, and it stayed flat the whole game. Everyone at the same time didn’t have their game, and really nothing was working. We’ve got to be better, and we’ve got to move on to Washington.”
Bergeron and the Bruins welcome another playoff-position opponent on Thursday. Whether he’s in the net to face the Capitals or not, Tuukka Rask will have long forgotten this one.
“Gone already,” said Rask, who was pulled after the first period (five goals on 12 shots). “One thing you learn over the years, you’re never as bad or as good as you think.”
History was a theme of the evening. The last time the Bruins saddled the home fans with five or more goals allowed in a first period was nearly 40 years ago: April 1, 1982, vs. Quebec. Tuesday was the eighth time in the Bruins’ 97-year archive a visiting team put up five in the first.
The Bruins hadn’t coughed up five in a first period since March 3, 2008, when they allowed six in a 10-2 loss at Washington.
The Hurricanes hadn’t scored five goals in the first since April 6, 2010, against Tampa Bay. It tied their season high for goals in a period.
Rask, in his second start after July hip surgery, submitted a save percentage of .583. He said he could have made a few more saves to lift his team.
“I don’t think we did anything in front of Tuukka to help him tonight,” Cassidy countered. “We would’ve needed an unbelievable effort from him to get any points tonight. That’s an unfair ask.”
Linus Ullmark stopped 20 of 22 shots in relief.
The Bruins played like they were dealing with aftereffects from Saturday’s hit-for-hit win over the Predators. After the long wait before puck drop, the visitors quickly noticed how sloppy the Bruins were.
Carolina jumped on an overly-aggressive forecheck and Derek Forbort’s missed step-up in the neutral zone, and turned a three on two into a Teuvo Teravainen one-timer goal, 3:44 into the night.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi sliced up more poor defense, potting a rebound at 6:03.
A few moments of good feeling — Rask shut down a Sebastian Aho breakaway with his pads, Bergeron scored a power-play goal — were fleeting.
Thirteen seconds after Bergeron broke Carolina’s 35-in-a-row penalty killing streak, Jaccob Slavin’s drive from the point sneaked through traffic, ticked off Kotkaniemi, and eluded Rask at 11:26.
On the 4-1 goal, at 16:01, Urho Vaakanainen and Connor Clifton allowed Seth Jarvis to drive to the net like a power forward looking for a dunk.
Derek Stepan, a healthy scratch the game prior, made it 5-1 at 16:57.
In the second, the Bruins had 1:08 of a five-on-three power play but opted to make it harder by passing up dangerous shots for lower-quality looks.
Slavin made it 6-1 with a power-play snipe early in the third, for his third point of the night (1-2–3).
The Bruins hadn’t allowed six goals since Game No. 2 of the season, a 6-3 loss Oct. 20 against Philadelphia.
Andrei Svechnikov kicked the extra point at 7:48 of the third, scoring Carolina’s second power-play goal in three opportunities.
“Clearly you want to play better, but I don’t think that takes away anything from Willie and his family and the honors,” Cassidy noted.
The ceremony wasn’t to blame for the poor start, either. Both teams had to wait.
“It wasn’t that long, and if anything, it’s energizing,” Cassidy said. “It was a great moment for hockey. You’d think guys would be jacked up.”