Bruins will play Hurricanes in Eastern Conference First Round

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The Boston Bruins will play the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Boston, which won the Presidents’ Trophy as the team with the best record during the regular season, lost its three games in regulation in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to finish as the No. 4 seed in the East.

Carolina swept the New York Rangers in a best-of-5 qualifier series and will be the No. 5 seed.

“Obviously, we didn’t like how these games went but we got better as we went along,” Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk said. “It’s just a matter of taking it out in Game 1 here, going up against a really good Carolina team. We saw them last year (in the playoffs), we know they’re going to be ready, it’s just a matter of playing better. “

Chris Wagner (two goals) and Charlie McAvoy (one goal, one assist) led the Bruins with two points each in the round-robin. David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand combined for one assist. Tuukka Rask was 0-2-0 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.

Sebastian Aho scored eight points (three goals, five assists) in the Qualifiers, which Carolina entered as the No. 6 seed. Andrei Svechnikov had five points (three goals, two assists) and Sami Vatanen had three assists. Petr Mrazek was 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .940 save percentage; James Reimer won his only start, allowing one goal on 38 shots in a 4-1 win on Aug. 4.

The Bruins swept the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final last season.

“I just think for our group since we’re pretty young last year was a huge step for all of us that haven’t experienced the playoffs,” Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele said. “Just having that experience and everyone just growing their game will be a lot better for our group.

“Yeah, there is some familiarity there (against the Bruins), but at the same time we’re just focused on ourselves to try to take the experience we gained and apply it to the next round.”

The Bruins defeated the Hurricanes 2-0 in the only game they played against each other during the regular season on Dec. 3. David Krejci and Charlie Coyle scored for the Bruins and Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves for the shutout. Reimer made 28 saves for the Hurricanes.

“We just finished the game, so I haven’t really thought about Carolina yet but it’s definitely nice to go into the playoffs,” Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton said. “You start preparing for that team. This round-robin, obviously it was kind of like playoff hockey, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t best-of-7, it’s just not the same, so I’m looking forward to the first round.”

Boston has won four of the five playoff series against the Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise, including two of three against the Hurricanes.

“They swept us last year,” Hurricanes forward Nino Niederreiter said. “It’s definitely going to be a good opportunity for us to kind of give back what they gave us last year in such a difficult time.”

The best-of-7 series will be played at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the hub city for the Eastern Conference.

NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen and staff writer Amalie Benjamin contributed to this report

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