Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- Playing their third game in four nights with a somewhat injury-depleted lineup, the Carolina Hurricanes had a slow go of it out of the gate and couldn’t completely recover, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Boston Bruins. That said, the game was closer than the score indicates, as the Canes trailed just 2-1 midway into the third period. Johnny Boychuk’s first of the season put Boston ahead 3-1, and Milan Lucic added an empty netter late. “We need 20 bodies going. We lost Alex (Semin) the other night, and our bench shortened up. Then you pay for it in the next game. When you saw us rolling four lines in the last couple of weeks, we were picking up the wins. We’re a much better team (then),” head coach Kirk Muller said. “I thought the guys gave it a hard-fought battle, just not enough to get back into it.”
-- Cam Ward returned to the crease for the first time since Oct. 24, as he missed 10-games with what he said was a groin tear. He stopped 26 of 29 shots, becoming more comfortable as the game played on. “It felt really good to get back in the net. Dealing with injuries is not an easy thing,” Ward said. “I hate losing, but in the second and third periods I felt a lot better about my game.”
-- More Ward, on mentally dealing with his second injury in seven months: “To have a tear in my groin this time when I came into camp in the best shape I can, it’s tough mentally,” he said. “I’m always a guy that wants to come back as soon as possible. I was really anxious, even last week, to try and push it. But you have to be smart about dealing with these things.”
-- After a bit of a sluggish start, the Canes got a timely goal from Tuomo Ruutu, his first of the season, with less than five seconds to play in the opening period. Drayson Bowman gained the zone and flipped the puck to Eric Staal, who skated down low. He then threw the puck into the slot, and it bounced off a defender, off Ruutu and in. But good things happen when you go to the net, and that’s exactly what Ruutu was doing -- driving the net with speed. “Hopefully I can build from that,” Ruutu said. “I haven’t played the way I’m capable of playing, but I’m just going to look forward.”
-- The Hurricanes seemed to play with a spark in the second period following that late first period tally. But just over a minute’s worth of a five-on-three opportunity that they couldn’t capitalize on didn’t help matters, especially in a 2-1 deficit. “We can’t really use the same guys,” Muller said, referring to the changing units due to injuries. “It’d be nice to have the same guys, roll it all the time and be consistent.”
-- While the power play is struggling -- it has converted just once in the team’s last seven games -- the offense as a whole isn’t finding the back of the net. The Canes last scored more than two goals in a regulation or overtime game on Oct. That said, the Canes did just rattle off a five-game point streak. “It wasn’t frustrating last week when we were winning,” Muller said of the lack of goal scoring. “It’s what our group is right now. We’re capable and winning some of these low-scoring games.”
-- The Canes will get another crack at the Bruins on Saturday in Boston in a matinee affair. Between now and then, Carolina will travel to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Thursday. By then, maybe they will have a healthy Jeff Skinner back in the lineup. “When we have 20 guys going and we’re fresh, we’re capable of winning these games,” Muller said.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Boston Bruins forwards Reilly Smith and Carl Soderberg each had a goal and an assist in the first period and goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 23 shots in a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night at PNC Arena.
With the win, the Bruins snapped a three-game road losing streak. Rask improved his record to 11-5-1; he has allowed one goal or fewer in 10 games.
The Hurricanes, who have lost two straight, fell to 8-9-2.
Carolina goaltender Cam Ward was back in the net after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. He stopped 26 of 29 shots in the loss.
With a 2-1 lead heading to the third period, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk gave Boston some breathing room when he scored from the top of the right circle at 10:29 for his first goal of the season.
The Bruins (13-6--1) needed 2:31 to get on the scoreboard, when Smith scored on the power play. From the right of the net, Soderberg fed Smith at the far post for a tap-in. Boston earned the power-play chance after Jiri Tlusty hooked Zdeno Chara on a short breakaway.
Boston made it 2-0 at 10:24 when Soderberg redirected Dennis Seidenberg's point shot past Ward. Smith earned the second assist after winning the faceoff.
The Hurricanes looked ready to go quietly at the end of the period after failing to generate a shot on a late power play. But Tuomo Ruutu found the net with five seconds remaining for his first goal of the season. Eric Staal's centering pass hit Patrice Bergeron in the skates before going off Ruutu's stick and past Rask.
The action opened up late in the second period, thanks to a pair of Boston penalties that left Carolina with a two-man advantage for 1:03. The Hurricanes' best chance came on Chris Terry's one-timer from the high slot, but Rask stopped it with his glove.
Ward looked sharper as the game went on, holding the Bruins at bay on scoring chances from Bergeron in the second period and Gregory Campbell from close range in the third.
The Bruins killed four penalties, extending their current streak to 32.
Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal played in his 500th NHL game.