RALEIGH, N.C. — It didn’t look like good news for Chris Wagner when he blocked a Justin Faulk shot late in Game 3, and it seems like the B’s might be without the Mayor of Walpole for some extended time.
Wagner — seen wearing a sling on his right arm right after Game 3 on Tuesday night — was sent back to Boston for further tests, according to head coach Bruce Cassidy. He won’t play in Game 4, with Noel Acciari sliding back in to the fourth line, recovered from a recent injury himself.
After Game 4, when the Bruins return home to Boston, they’ll re-evaluate what’s next for Wagner.
“He’s always going to bring tenacity, grit, physicality,’’ Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He’s a good energy guy. You know what you’re going to get out of him every night. We’ll miss him.’’
Wagner’s departure isn’t all for naught; he blocked the shot late in the game when the Bruins led 2-1, trying to hold on against a surge of Hurricanes shots.
He scored the opening goal of the game, in a strong second period that made up for a lackluster first, and opened the floodgates against the Canes.
But the blocked shot, while it injured him, was as important as any play in the game.
“To block a shot like that, that gets us fired up,” said Charlie Coyle. “It’s the little things. They add up. That’s a big loss for us. He’s been such a great player. He brings so much on that fourth line. He can play up and down the lineup. He’s been playing on the fourth line, and they create such good energy for us. They’ve gotten us right into games and had some big shifts. He’s been a huge part of that. Blocking shots, that is a big part. We’re definitely playing for him and the other guys who are injured and can’t be out there with us.
“But that’s how Wags is in a nutshell. He does whatever for the team.”
Special teams stay special
The Bruins strength of special teams has been well-documented. While the Hurricanes power play hasn’t been on its game for most of the season, they’ve made it this far.
They still weren’t ready for the Bruins.
Operating at 42 percent on the power play, it’s just 10 percent higher than the 32 percent the B’s have worked at all season. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are just 5-for-50 during the duration of the playoffs, but that’s a lot better than the 1-for-12 — or 8 percent — that they’ve posted in this round.
After Game 3, Cassidy said goaltender Tuukka Rask had been the B’s best penalty killer, and there’s plenty to that, given his 35-save performance and his frustration of the Canes.
But there’s plenty in favor of the Bruins special teams just playing at a different level when it matters most, and now within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals.