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Cam Ward blanks Bruins, whose struggles continue 02.02.12 at 9:27 pm ET
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The Bruins turned in their latest poor showing and as Carolina took a 3-0 contest and swept the four-game season series between the teams for the first time in franchise history.

The Hurricanes got goals from Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu in the first and second periods, respectively. Picking up the shutout for Carolina was Cam Ward, who won all four games against the Bruins this season. Tuukka Rask took the loss.

The Bruins came out and outshot Carolina, 22-8, in the first period, but Staal’s first-period tally and stronger second and third-period efforts propelled the Hurricanes, who entered Thursday last in the Eastern Conference, past the B’s.

With the loss, the Bruins’ are now 4-4-1 over their last nine games, their worst such stretch since the first month of the season. They will return to action Saturday when they host the Penguins at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins have now allowed three or more goals in five consecutive games. Prior to the current stretch the team is currently on, the longest stretch of games in which they allowed three or more goals was two. If the 4-4-1 record of late doesn’t say it enough, the Bruins have been well off the mark lately.

- A sensationally horrific stat pointed out by the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont, Thursday marked the ninth consecutive game in which the Bruins entered the hire period without the lead. Boston has been the league’s best third-period team this season, but they have to know that they can’t count on a big effort in the final 20 minutes to get them two points each time out.

Speaking of the third period, the Hurricanes outscored the Bruins, 8-4, in the third period in the four-game season series. That’s saying something.

- In too many ways, the game was reminiscent of the teams’ second meeting this season on Oct. 18, when the Bruins lost their cool late in the game and lost, 4-1. The Hurricanes had David Krejci outnumbered in front of Ward a little more than halfway through the third period, but that’s no excuse for Milan Lucic to show up late to the party grabbing Stall from behind and taking a roughing penalty. The Bruins are a tough, passionate team, but the passion that comes out when they know defeat is near is the wrong kind.

- For the second consecutive game, Patrice Bergeron’s line was a minus-2. Tyler Seguin still leads the NHL with a plus-32 rating, but that will go away fast if his line continues to allow goals at their recent clip.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- While Thursday’s showing (once again) was not a 60-minute effort, the B’s at least came out with a better start than they had in games past. The team’s 22 shots on goal in the first (though they came with very few scoring opportunities) period was the most the team ties the third period of Jan. 10′s game against the Jets for the most shot they’ve had in a single period this year.

- The Bruins survived an injury scare. Johnny Boychuk’s stick went into his midsection after taking a hit from Tuomo Ruutu in the seconds that led up to Staal’s goal. Boychuk left the ice in pain and went down the tunnel following the goal. He did not return to the bench for the rest of the period, but he was present at the start of the second period.

- Rask kept them in the game. Ruutu’s goal wasn’t Rask’s finest moment, but the Finnish goaltender kept the contest close in the second period when the Bruins couldn’t keep up with the Hurricanes. Some of Rask’s brightest moments came when he went post-to-post to stop Eric Staal late in the period and when he made a sharp glove save on a Patrick Dwyer shot from the slot.

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Shorthanded miracle clinches playoffs for Bruins 04.10.10 at 3:24 pm ET
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Summary — Boston used a miraculous shorthanded burst to start the second period to put away the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 in a Saturday matinee game at TD Garden to finally earn a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Tuukka Rask got the win for the Bruins with 33 saves while Cam Ward was solid for the entire game except the first two minutes of the second period to take the loss.

The Bruins scored three shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill to start the second period (Hunwick, hooking 19:42 of first) in a span of 1:04.l Daniel Paille was the first to crack the board when took the puck through Ward’s crease, pivot-turned and fired back on net at :32 to make it 1-0 Boston.

Blake Wheeler got in on the action next when he found a rebound off the stick of David Krejci in the slot in front Ward at 1:21. Wheeler banged it back into the net for the two-goal advantage. Paille’s fellow penalty killer, Steve Begin, decided that he would turn it into a troika 15-seconds later when he shot from the right face off circle with enough vigor that Ward could not contain it and it bounced off his chest pads, over his shoulder and into the net at 1:36.

It was the first time since 1985 and perhaps that Boston has had two goals on a penalty kill and perhaps the only time in history where they have done it three times. The 1:04 it took to score the goals was the fastest that it has been done all season and the fastest three goals for the Bruins since :52 on Dec. 20, 2001 against Montreal.

But the game was not done there just because the Bruins did something spectacular. Carolina clawed back to make it a contest, starting when Erik Cole picked up his 10th of the season by knocking down Rask’s door right in front of the crease at 14:30 in the second. Patrick Dwyer would make it a one-goal game three minutes later when he skated through the slot and went back against the grain on Rask with a wrist shot to make it 3-2 at 17:30.

Boston came out of the gates hot in the first period as they rained 10 shots on Ward in the first five minutes but were unable to crack the goaltender in the opening frame. The momentum see-sawed back to Carolina later in the period as the Canes took their chances on Rask to try and even the shot count and getting close at 18-14 at the start of the second.

Milan Lucic added an empty-net goal with a minute left for the final tally.

The game was an official sellout, the 24th consecutive official sellout for the team this year and 25th overall (counting the Winter Classic at Fenway). The last non-sellout for the Bruins was on Dec. 2, 2009 against Tampa Bay.

Three Stars

Daniel Paille — The forward has been Boston’s spark on the penalty kill all season and was rewarded during the last home game of the year as he and his fellow shorthanded mates broke through in spectacular fashion. In addition to scoring the first goal he added a secondary assist to Begin’s strike.

Steve Begin — In an ode to the Bruins great year of penalty killing, Begin earned his 100th NHL point with his goal and teamed with Paille to kill all the Hurricanes power play chances.

Blake Wheeler — The young forward broke out of a scoring slump for his 18th of the year. Wheeler had not scored since March 15 against the Devils.

Turning Point — Who would have thought that the Bruins would turn on a penalty AGAINST them? Matt Hunwick took a slashing call at the 19:42 mark of the first period, thus giving the Hurricanes a man-advantage to start the second. Boston then turned around and scored three goals to start the second for all the offense they would need to win the game and clinch a playoff spot.

Key Play — A Boston opportunity almost turned into a disaster in the third period. Carolina’s Jerome Samson was going to be called for a high-sticking penalty but the Hurricanes had not gained possession of the puck. The delayed penalty meant that the Bruins could pull Rask for an extra attacker, thus leaving the net empty. An errant back pass by the Bruins bounced off the wall in neutral zone and straight at the empty net, a goal that would be the game-tying striking if it crossed the plain. Patrice Bergeron gathered a head of steam and chased the puck down, catching it right as it as about to go across the line and whip-clearing it back down the left wing out of danger. The play was reviewed to make sure that the puck did not indeed cross the line and the verdict of no-goal was upheld.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Cam Ward, Daniel Paille, Erik Cole Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Second period summary: Bruins vs. Hurricanes at 2:47 pm ET
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You do not see that everyday. Or, well, ever.

Boston came of the dressing room to start the second period and decided to just flat out set Cam Ward on fire. It scored three goals in 1:04, tallied by Daniel Paille, Blake Wheeler and Steve Begin, in that order at :32, 1:21 and 1:36.

Oh, and all of them came on the penalty kill.

Paille got the first on a hustle play when he found took a zone-clearing pass from Zdeno Chara and kept his legs moving down the right wing, marching straight to and through Ward’s crease, turning back and firing to give the animated TD Garden crowd something to cheer about. It was Paille’s 10th of the season.

Before the public address announcer could finish telling the crowd the details of Paille’s goal, Wheeler found a rebound in the slot off of a David Krejci shot that he banged back home to make it 2 -0. Steve Begin wanted in on the party after that and found the puck on the right circle and shot into Ward’s chest protector. The goaltender could not put it down and it bounced over his pads into the net to make an already jubilant crowd absolutely giddy.

A couple notes on the three shorted-handed goals:

3 — The total of short-handed goals that the Bruins had all season before three in the same penalty kill.

1:04 — Fastest the Bruins have scored three goals this season and fastest three goals the team has scored since :52 on Dec. 20, 2001 against the Canadiens. The fastest the Bruins have scored three this season was on Dec. 23 against Atlanta in 1:08.

25 – Years since it has been that Boston has scored multiple goals on the same penalty kill after scoring two against Toronto on Jan. 9, 1985.

Carolina went on the power play again at 12:18 when Milan Lucic went for a trip. Neither team was able to tally on this penalty though it did give Carolina some momentum as Erik Cole would be Tuukka Rask on the doorstep of his crease to make it 3-1 at 14:30.

The Canes then cut the lead to one at 17:06 when Patrick Dwyer put up his seventh of the season when he crossed through the slot and went back against the grain with a wrist shot to beat Rask far side and make the game a contest once again.

Boston had a power play at 17:20 when Carolina center Eric Staal took at slashing penalty. The Bruins can apparently score at will when they are a man down but are utterly impotent while a man up as yet another power play fizzled out. Boston is now 0 for its last 20 man-advantage opportunities and 3 for their last 46.

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Bruins playoff scenarios at 1:58 pm ET
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Alright, let’s break this down as simply as we can.

-The Bruins can clinch a playoff spot with a point against either Carolina or Washington.

-The Bruins can clinch the No. 6 seed with a Montreal loss against Toronto on Saturday night and a combination of two points against the Hurricanes and Capitals (a win or two overtime points).

- The Bruins can clinch the No. 7 seed with a combination of two points combined with a Canadiens win.

-The Bruins can clinch the No. 8 seed with a single point on Saturday or Sunday and the Rangers/Flyers games does not go into overtime.

- The Bruins would take the N0. 8 seed with two losses only if Sunday’s Ranger/Flyers game does not go into overtime earning the loser a point.

-The Bruins would not make the playoffs with two losses and the Rangers/Flyers game on Sunday does go into overtime.

Right now the Bruins and Canadiens each have 87 points. Montreal holds the tie-breaker because they have more wins and also won the head-to-head season series. The Rangers and Flyers have 86 points apiece and play each other in Philadelphia on Sunday. Boston would lose any tie-breaker against the four remaining teams because they would end up with fewer wins.

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First period summary: Bruins vs. Hurricanes at 1:43 pm ET
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It was pretty obvious from the start that the Bruins want to wrap up their playoff spot against the Hurricanes on Saturday and not leave anything to fate.
The puck lived in the Carolina zone so long in the first half of the first period that it had time to build its own system of igloo villages in front of Canes’ goaltender Cam Ward. The Bruins put up 10 shots before the six-minute mark and went on two early power plays (Drayson Bowman, slashing 1:39, Chad LaRose, tripping 6:16) as a result of their aggressive play. As has become the common theme the last month-and-a-half, neither of those man-advantage opportunities resulted in an actual goal, but they did serve to keep momentum on the side of the Boston.
The Bruins did serve a little bit of that momentum back later in the period starting when rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid went to the box for hooking at 8:51 and the Canes started turning the pace of play into a more even affair by the end of the period but overall Boston held the advantage over their foes from Tabacco Road  with an 18-14 shot advantage.
The Hurricanes will start the second period on the power play as defenseman Matt Hunwick took a hooking penalty at 19:42.
Read More: Adam McQuaid, Cam Ward, Matt Hunwick, Tuukka Rask Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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