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3 Keys: Bruins at Hurricanes, Game 7 of Eastern First Round

(1M) Hurricanes at (WC1) Bruins

4:30 pm ET; ESPN, SN360, SNE, SNW, SNP, TVAS, BSSO, NESN

Best-of-7 series tied 3-3

The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes each will try to advance to the Eastern Conference Second Round with a win in Game 7 of the first round at PNC Arena on Saturday.

The home team has won each game of the series; the Bruins won 5-2 at TD Garden on Thursday to force a deciding game.

“What’s at stake is the biggest thing. Everything is on the line,” Boston captain Patrice Bergeron said. “It’s a game of inches, and a bounce here or there can make a difference. What I’ve learned the most is to stay with it and stay the course from the first minute until the end.”

The Hurricanes have outscored the Bruins 15-4 in the three games at PNC Arena.

“You don’t win a Game 7 unless you play your best,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “There’s nothing different in the game. The preparation is the same, it’s just that everything matters that much more.”

Home teams own a 107-77 (.582) advantage in the 184 all-time Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (2-1 in 2021).

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs Hurricanes series coverage]

Here are 3 keys for Game 7:

1. Big game goaltending

Boston’s Jeremy Swayman and Carolina’s Antti Raanta each will make his first start in a deciding game.

Swayman took over the net from Linus Ullmark in Game 3 after the Bruins fell behind 2-0 in the series. He allowed two goals in each of Boston’s three home-ice wins, but gave up four goals on 37 shots in a 5-1 loss in Game 5 at PNC Arena. In four starts, he’s 3-1 with a 2.51 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.

Raanta has been at his best at home. He made 35 saves in a 5-1 win in Game 1 and 33 in a 5-1 win in Game 5; he made six saves without allowing a goal in Game 2 before leaving with an upper-body injury and being relieved by Pyotr Kochetkov. Raanta is 2-2 in the series with a 2.46 GAA and .926 save percentage in five starts for the Hurricanes.

“I think I’ve found a good consistent level,” Raanta said. “Obviously everything comes down to tomorrow. So it’s one more time.”

2. Staying out of the penalty box

Discipline could be a decisive factor for each team; Boston has taken 37 minor penalties, the most of any playoff team. Carolina has committed 30 (tied for fifth). The Bruins hold a 6-5 advantage in power-play goals.

“When you get evenly matched teams,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said, “there’s a couple instances a game that can turn the tide.”

Carolina scored twice in nine power-play chances in a 5-2 win in Game 2, and Boston went 2-for-9 with the man advantage in a 5-2 win in Game 4.

“Like always, every game has come down to the special teams,” Hurricanes forward Andre Svechnikov said. “But also, you’ve got to play 5-on-5 really good.”

Video: Get ready for Game 7 of Bruins vs. Hurricanes

3. Starting quickly

How important is the first goal in a Game 7? The team that scores first is 138-46 (.750) in the 184 all-time Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (3-0 in 2021).

Carolina scored the opening goal in each of the first five games.

“Scoring first would help,” Cassidy said. “We’ve been close (in Carolina), just haven’t been able to finish. That’s a little bit of puck luck, that’s a little bit of determination. And then not getting rattled, no matter what happens. If they score first, we can’t let it bother us.”

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Jake DeBrusk

Taylor HallErik HaulaDavid Pastrnak

Trent FredericCharlie CoyleCraig Smith

Nick FolignoTomas NosekCurtis Lazar

Hampus LindholmCharlie McAvoy

Mike ReillyBrandon Carlo

Derek ForbortConnor Clifton

Jeremy Swayman

Linus Ullmark

Scratched: Matt Grzelcyk, Anton Blidh, Chris Wagner, Josh Brown

Injured: None

Hurricanes projected lineup

Andrei SvechnikovSebastian Aho |Seth Jarvis

Max DomiVincent TrocheckTeuvo Teravainen

Nino NiederreiterJordan SteelJesper Fast

Martin NecasJesperi KotkaniemiDerek Stepan

Jaccob SlavinTony DeAngelo

Brady SkjeiBrett Pesce

Brendan SmithIan Cole

Antti Raanta

Pyotr Kochetkov

Scratched: Ethan Bear, Steven Lorentz

Injured: Frederik Andersen (lower body), Jordan Martinook (lower body)

Status report

The Hurricanes will dress the same lineup they used in a 5-2 loss in Game 6 on Thursday. … Skjei did not practice on Friday but is expected to play. … Martinook skated Friday but will not play; the forward left in the second period of Game 3 after a collision with Hall.

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