Bruins coach Claude Julien  doesn’t hand out compliments freely.
But even he was impressed with the way his team handled the nine days since dispatching the Montreal Canadiens  in four straight games as the Black and Gold skated past the Carolina Hurricanes , 4-1, Friday night at TD Banknorth Garden  in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
On Friday night, the Bruins came out fast, stumbled and then regained the focus that has made them a viable Stanley Cup  contender.
‘For a team that hadn’t played in a week-and-a-half, I thought we came out decently and were pretty poised throughout the whole game and were patient and took advantage of our opportunities,” Julien said . “But no doubt, I think our team was as good as we could have expected for tonight.’
Perhaps the first goal came too easily as the Bruins seemed to take a collective breath and watch the Canes mount momentum for the rest of the first period, capped off with a game-tying goal from Jussi Jokinen with just 70 ticks left in the first.
“There’s a difference between getting outplayed and really losing your focus,” said Ward , the former Carolina defenseman who won a Cup with the Canes in 2006. “I think we started out and found the momentum in the first period, the fans got behind and I think for some reason we got away from what we were doing to be effective out there and that was a consistent effort. We started standing around and watching them and when we become complacent, we become a very bad team.”
Michael Ryder  assisted on that first goal and scored the crucial third goal in the second period that put Boston up, 3-1. He saw many of the same things Ward saw but wasn’t ready to blame it on the nine-day lay0ff.
‘I don’t know if it was rust,” Ryder said. “I think sometimes we were maybe a little too excited and didn’t do things right. But we worked hard in practice the past week and I think we were a little too excited to play in the game and as the game went along, I think we got a lot better.’
Marc Savard , with two goals, felt the crowd helped the team shake off the rust from the start of the game.
“I think the crowd gave us that excitement and that energy we needed to get us in the game, especially when we came out, it was awesome,” Savard said.
But it was again Julien who seemed to provide a fatherly touch after this one, putting perspective on the win.
‘It wasn’t a bad game,” Julien said. “There are some things in our game we need to improve and a lot of that is due to probably the long layoff. We were good tonight, we can be better. I think everybody in our dressing room knows that.’
The flip side of rust is fatigue. And everybody in the other dressing room knows there’s some work to be done.
Paul Maurice’s Hurricanes pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Game 7 history in any sport when they scored twice in the final 80 seconds against New Jersey and Martin Brodeur  on Tuesday night to advance to Round 2.
So after a game on Friday, the Hurricanes will not skate on Saturday, instead choosing to skate again on Sunday morning prior to that night’s Game 2 at the Garden.
‘This is the home of the Boston Marathon,” Maurice said . “When you run an eight-minute marathon, the last thing you need to do is put your running shoes back on. Our problem wasn’t our legs. It was between our ears. I think coming into this game, we spent more time between our ears.
‘We didn’t play anywhere near the game we knew we were capable of playing,” Maurice added. “Not sure how much of that was us and how much of that was them, but we’re going to work on not doing that again.’