By Brian LeBlanc
NCSportsTalk.com - Puck Drops
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Yesterday afternoon in Boston, the Hurricanes were manhandled, losing 7-0 to the Bruins while generally looking lackadaisical in all aspects of the game. Fortunately for the Canes, they don't have to wait long to exact some revenge.
The two teams meet again tonight, this time at the RBC Center, and the Canes know how important a focused effort is to gain a split in this home-and-home series. Cam Ward will be back in net tonight after being pulled in the first period yesterday afternoon, and he'll look to bounce back after a rough few minutes in Boston. Newly named All-Star captain Eric Staal will see plenty of Zdeno Chara, the hulking Bruins defenseman who scored his first career hat trick on Monday, and for the Canes to be successful they need Staal to lead the charge to dent Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.
Jiri Tlusty was activated off injured reserve yesterday, but he will not play again tonight. As a result, the Canes will have no lineup changes, although where the individual players fit in on the forward lines is anyone's guess.
The Canes look to earn a split tonight, and we're minutes away from getting started....
2:04 1st: Bruins take a 1-0 lead; Savard 3 (Boychuk, Ryder) (pp) Yesterday, it took the Bruins 7 minutes to open the floodgates. Tonight? Just more than two. Jussi Jokinen took an ill-timed tripping penalty just :17 into the game, and Johnny Boychuk made them pay with a slap shot from the right point that was tipped by Marc Savard and flew over Cam Ward's blocker. Ward was screened on the play, butstill...after getting run out of the building last night, this was far from the start the Hurricanes wanted.
5:49 1st: The B's are pouring it on right now. David Krejci nearly made it 2-0 with a shot that looked like it had Ward beat on the long side but just barely trickled to the left of the net. Shots are 6-2 Bruins, but it seems like they've had about 26.
10:00 1st: The Canes have no business with anything approaching a goal right now, but Sergei Samsonov nearly put the Canes on the board as Thomas was caught out of position for the first time all year and kicked a rebound right to Samsonov. Unfortunately for the Canes, Thomas barely got his right leg over and kicked out the rebound just in time.
13:10 1st: Business has started to pick up. Sergei Samsonov had his second glorious scoring chance in a span of three minutes denied by Thomas, this time with a real quick kick save on a play where he wasn't even sure a shot was coming from. A few seconds later, Jamie McBain (!) leveled Michael Ryder with a clean shoulder check at the blue line.
18:39 1st: Canes tie it at 1; Jokinen 11 (Staal, Corvo) (pp) I was just getting ready to declare this One Of Those Nights after Eric Staal made a behind-the-goalie pass to Jussi Jokinen in front of the net, but Jokinen double-clutched and couldn't bury it. Ten seconds later, Staal somehow got a pass through Thomas' pads and right to Jokinen at the near side of the crease, who didn't miss this time and tied it up at 1.
End 1st: The Canes had a look of jet lag in the first few minutes, no doubt helped along by the early Jokinen penalty, but they wound up outshooting the Bruins 19-11 in the period and were tilting the ice pretty sharply as the period went on. Thomas took a badly-advised forearm at Staal on a rush at the end of the period and ended up with a roughing penalty, meaning the Canes will start the 2nd on their third power play of the night.
1:10 2nd: While on the aforementioned power play, the Canes have looked nothing like the lethargic team from yesterday afternoon. Thomas has been flopping all over the place and the Canes have come dangerously close to converting, if only they had someone in position to pick up the loose change.
8:37 2nd: Thomas is, shall we say, a bit unconventional in his goaltending style, and the Canes have had him moving all over the place to the tune of a 32-14 shot advantage, meaning they've outshot the Bruins 13-3 in less than ten minutes of the period. Maybe a little home cooking in those stats, but it doesn't belie the fact that the Canes have been skating circles around the Bruins in the offensive zone.
10:11 2nd: Some of the saves Thomas have made have been rather unreal, and others have just been plain lucky. On a delayed penalty, Jeff Skinner was the victim of a lucky save, as Thomas quite literally did a split to kick the puck out with him way out at the top of the crease and all sorts of daylight behind him. The Canes have done everything but score, and they'll get another chance with the power play as Johnny Boychuk heads to the box for tripping Tuomo Ruutu behind the net.
12:58 2nd: Looks like Patrick Dwyer got the message about driving to the net, and he earned a shove or two from Zdeno Chara in the process. Still, that's the kind of grit and determination that was very conspicuously absent in yesterday's game.
19:18 2nd: Great defensive play by Eric Staal, tying up what would have been a sure goal from Shawn Thornton by knocking his stick off balance. Since the Bruins went on a power play at 16:17 thanks to a Patrick Dwyer delay of game penalty, the B's have slowly started to take the game back from the Carolina onslaught.
End 2nd: Shots in the second were 19-9 Canes, who led overall 38-20. However, the Dwyer penalty seemed to swing momentum back a bit toward Boston, and Thomas has stood on his head, so this game is far from over despite the huge shot discrepancy.
2:40 3rd: The Bruins came out of the locker room with all sorts of scoring chances, and it's obvious they've been told to shoot early and often. Ward has held his ground, and the Canes nearly got a goal out of a Thomas fumble at the other end. Say this for the B's defense - they haven't been called upon too much, but they've been there on the rare occasion that Thomas has needed some assistance tonight.
3:55 3rd: Bruins take a 2-1 lead; Marchand 10 (Chara, Recchi) And just like that, Thomas' heroics look like they might mean something. A point shot from Zdeno Chara made it through to Ward and he made the save, but Brad Marchand was parked at the top of the crease and shoveled the puck home to give the Bruins their second lead of the night.
7:30 3rd: When the Bruins get a lead, it's amazing to see them clog up the neutral zone. Every time the Canes regroup in their own zone, the B's park all five men in the neutral zone and make it impossible for anything to get through. The Canes are trying to beat it by dumping the puck in, but it's largely a futile exercise.
9:19 3rd: Canes tie it at 2; LaRose 9 (Ruutu, Skinner) The balloon has air again. Jeff Skinner made the play happen, with a quick backhander that was blocked by Thomas about ten feet up in the air. By the time the puck came back down, there were five guys in front of the net battling for position, and when the puck hit the ice Tuomo Ruutu passed across the crease to Chad LaRose, who slammed it home to tie it again.
10:42 3rd: I rarely get into officiating gaffes, but one was just made that is inexcusable. Somehow, 5'10" Chad LaRose was whistled for elbowing 6'9" Zdeno Chara, and on replay LaRose's elbow was absolutely nowhere near Chara. Chara sold it well, but c'mon.
11:59 3rd: Bruins lead 3-2; Lucic 17 (Recchi, Kampfer) (pp) You did know this was coming, right? Phantom call leads to a goal. Quelle surprise. Recchi centers to Lucic from behind the net on a beautiful pass and the rest is history. The crowd, needless to say, was a bit upset.
18:30 3rd: I stand corrected. LaRose did take a penalty on the play, but it was a high stick on Chara. Still, I question if the official realized it's rather difficult for a 5'10" guy to elbow a 6'9" one.
End 3rd: A late penalty to Ruutu for tripping didn't help the Canes' extra-attacker chances, and the Bruins left with a sweep of the home-and-home after a 3-2 win. Despite that, Paul Maurice was as upbeat as I've seen him after a loss, saying repeatedly that his guys gave everything they could and tonight it just wasn't enough. You got the sense talking to Maurice and especially Tuomo Ruutu that if they play like this on a regular basis, they know they'll not only be fine but they'll make the playoffs.
It was a playoff atmosphere at the RBC tonight, and that energy rubbed off on the bench, which is something the Canes sorely needed. They didn't want to be run out of their own building tonight the way they were the day before. Mission accomplished, although it wasn't the result they ultimately wanted.
Click for audio from Eric Staal, Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen. Paul Maurice's press conference is attached.
Back at it Thursday night when the New York Rangers come to town and the Canes look to build on tonight's performance. Despite the loss, there's a bunch there to build on, and we'll see how successful they are in doing so Thursday night.