NHL playoffs 2019: Chris Wagner comes up clutch again as Bruins take stranglehold of East finals

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The low-scoring 27-year-old forward has just two goals in this year's playoffs, but both have come in the conference finals.
The low-scoring 27-year-old forward has just two goals in this year's playoffs, but both have come in the conference finals.

Who knew Chris Wagner had a flair for the dramatic?

The 27-year-old forward, who entered Tuesday's Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes with just four playoff goals to his name, scored the opener for Boston in a 2-1 win that gave the Bruins a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Wagner isn't known for his scoring touch — he set a career high with 12 goals for the Bruins during the regular season, which doubled his previous best campaign — but the Walpole, Mass., native seems to have a knack for scoring at the right time. In Game 1, Wagner tallied the final goal to seal Boston's 5-2 series-opening win. It was his first goal of this year's postseason after nine goalless efforts.

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On Tuesday, he added his second of the conference finals, deftly redirecting a centering pass behind Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney.

The goal came on Boston's eighth shot of the game and delivered the first blow to a Carolina team that had poured 20 shots on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask at that point.

Just over five minutes later, Brad Marchand doubled Boston's lead, and that proved too much for a desperate Hurricanes team to handle. Despite outshooting the Bruins for the game and even having a Boston goal disallowed due to interference on McElhinney, Carolina finds itself down 3-0 in the series after its first home loss of the 2019 playoffs.

Despite being one of the heroes for the Bruins, Tuesday's game came at a cost to Wagner. With the Hurricanes pushing for the equalizer, Wagner blocked a Justin Faulk slapshot with his right arm and had to leave the game with 2:56 remaining.

Wagner was spotted wearing a sling in the Bruins locker room following the game. His sacrifice didn't go unnoticed by teammates.

"You do whatever it takes to win and he just embodies that in every way," Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy told Sportsnet. "That's just a massive block. I gotta go give that guy a hug right now."

MORE: NHL playoffs 2019: Hurricanes' Justin Williams on Game 2 loss: 'Sometimes you’ve got to eat a poop sandwich' | NHL playoffs 2019: Bruins' Brad Marchand mocks Justin Williams' captaincy in Game 2

The Bruins will have a chance to complete the sweep on Thursday, but Wagner's status for Game 4 remains up in the air.

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