The Bear Cave

January 25, 2010 1:42 AM

Disaster Strikes, as Hurricanes Blow Away Bruins

Although the regular season still has a little less than three months remaining, Sunday afternoon featured an important game for the Boston Bruins. The Bruins entered the game losing seven of their last eight tilts, dropping out of the top eight spots in the Eastern Conference. Sunday's opponent was the Carolina Hurricanes - the team with the fewest points in the entire National Hockey League.

If fans around Boston are starting to panic, they have every right to. After taking a 1-0 lead in the game's opening period, the Hurricanes exploded in the second, scoring three times, busting open a 4-0 advantage. The two clubs exchanged goals in the third, but the damage was done. The Bruins took a 5-1 loss on the chin at the RBC Center in Raleigh.

Despite what the final score indicated, the Bruins did get off to a good start, creating chances in Carolina territory. However, after dodging a couple of bullets, the Hurricanes went the other way, opening the scoring. Matt Hunwick passed the puck up the left side, connecting with David Krejci. Krejci tried to move forward, but was immediately met by Ray Whitney, who stole the puck away. Whitney poked the puck to Jussi Jokinen, who returned the favor with a pass back to Whitney. By this time, Tim Thomas was committed to Jokinen, leaving Whitney with an open net for his 15th tally of the season.

The Hurricanes controlled the play in the second half of the period, ultimately outshooting Boston 10-8. However, Whitney's goal was the only one during the first period, as Carolina took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room.

The second period acted as a snowball for the Bruins, as one thing led to another, making the Hurricanes that much tougher to defend.

The snowball began at the 3:44 mark of the period, when Patrice Bergeron was whistled for tripping, putting Carolina on the man advantage. Joni Pitkanen picked up the puck behind his own goal, starting a breakout with Eric Staal. After a quick exchange of passes with his team's new captain, Pitkanen snapped a long lead pass ahead to Jussi Jokinen. Jokinen sped into the offensive zone, before curling toward the left circle. This brought the Bruins' defense toward Jokinen, opening up a lane for Staal, who was trailing the play. Jokinen dropped a pass back to Staal, who had little trouble with the majority of the net to shoot at.

During Staal's goal, Boston picked up another penalty, as Matt Hunwick was sent off for hooking. The visitors successfully killed off Hunwick's penalty, but the Hurricanes added to their lead three seconds later. Jussi Jokinen gathered in the rebound of a Tim Thomas save, tapping a pass back to Matt Cullen. Cullen thought about a shot, before keeping the puck moving left to Joni Pitkanen. Pitkanen skated in a few strides, sliding a pass through the slot to Jokinen. With Thomas lunging over, Jokinen calmly deposited the even strength marker.

The Bruins defense recovered for a few minutes as the midway mark of the game approached, but with 8:58 remaining, Carolina struck again. Cam Ward made a save for the Hurricanes, giving his team some momentum the other way. Ray Whitney got a pass from Niclas Wallin on the left side, turning on the jets as he skated up the ice. A quick move on Zdeno Chara led to a 2-on-1, as Dennis Wideman was left to defend Whitney and Brandon Sutter. Whitney dished a pass over to Sutter, who finished the play with a one-timer.

Sutter's 12th goal of the season brought Tim Thomas' night to an end. Thomas allowed four goals on 15 shots, before giving way to Tuukka Rask for the second time in his last three starts, as well as the third time this month.

Rask kept the Hurricanes off of the scoreboard for the remainder of the second period, but the home team cashed in at the 15-second mark of the third. Chad LaRose put a hit on Patrice Bergeron in center ice, freeing the puck for Brandon Sutter. Sutter carried the puck in on the right side of the offensive zone, before centering a pass to LaRose. LaRose cradled the puck momentarily, before wristing a shot stick side on Rask.

With 12:31 left, a former Bruin helped his old team get on the board. Stephane Yelle took an interference minor, putting Boston on the power play. David Krejci cycled the puck back to Derek Morris, who sent a pass back down low to Krejci, and eventually Blake Wheeler. Wheeler put a shot on goal that was stopped by Cam Ward, but the rebound deflected out to Krejci, who scored his ninth goal of the season.

Despite an 11-3 advantage in shots on goal during the third period, Krejci's goal was the only celebration of the day for the Bruins. When the final buzzer sounded, Carolina had a convincing 5-1 victory on home ice.

Cam Ward picked up the win for the Hurricanes, stopping all but one of the 28 shots he faced. Tim Thomas suffered the loss, allowing four goals on 15 shots in 31:02. Tuukka Rask only faced five shots in relief, making four saves, while receiving a no-decision.

One statistic to note for the Bruins was another disappointing performance for Dennis Wideman. Wideman was on the ice for all five Carolina goals, getting hit with a minus-4, dropping his plus/minus on the season to minus-12.

There was one win in the organization on Sunday, as the Providence Bruins blanked the Springfield Falcons 3-0 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Zach Hamill opened the scoring in the late stages of the second period, before Jeff LoVecchio and Jamie Arniel added insurance markers in the third. The three Providence goals were plenty to support Dany Sabourin, who was perfect on 26 shots for his second shutout of the season.

The upcoming week should be an interesting one for the Boston Bruins, as they are off until Friday night's game in Buffalo. The Providence Bruins' next game is also Friday, when they play host to the Manchester Monarchs.

Scoring Summary:
1. CAR Whitney (16) (Jokinen) 7:50
2. CAR Staal (15) (Jokinen, Pitkanen) (PP) 4:26
2. CAR Jokinen (15) (Pitkanen, Cullen) 6:29
2. CAR Sutter (12) (Whitney, Wallin) 11:02
3. CAR LaRose (3) (Sutter) 0:15
3. BOS Krejci (9) (Wheeler, Morris) (PP) 8:56

Penalty Summary:
1. BOS Chara- Interference 9:46
2. BOS Bergeron- Tripping 3:44
2. BOS Hunwick- Hooking 4:26
2. CAR Kostopoulos- Delay of Game 8:17
2. CAR Brind'Amour- Holding 13:58
3. BOS Stuart- Tripping 4:20
3. CAR Yelle- Interference 7:29
3. CAR Samsonov- Interference 12:21

BOS Tim Thomas (13-14-6): 15 shots, 11 saves
BOS Tuukka Rask (entered at 11:02 2nd): 5 shots, 4 saves
CAR Cam Ward (11-19-5): 28 shots, 27 saves

Shots on Goal:
BOS 8-9-11=28
CAR 10-7-3=20

Power Plays:
BOS 1-for-4
CAR 1-for-4

Three Stars of the Game:
1- CAR Jussi Jokinen
2- CAR Ray Whitney
3- CAR Cam Ward

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