BOSTON – As far as bonding experiences are concerned, you can't find too many better than winning twice against the defending Stanley Cup champions within a span of seven days. So the Carolina Hurricanes should be feeling pretty tight-knit after they downed the Bruins, 4-1, Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Carolina also beat Boston 3-2 at home last Wednesday. The 'Canes have won three in a row after starting the season 0-2-1.
"I think we're finding our game and we know it's there," defenseman Jay Harrison said. "We're developing a confidence beyond the first couple games. Things didn't go quite as well as we wanted on the scoreboard, but there was something there, building, and now we see that the results are coming. That's creating confidence and we're bringing that game every night, that competitiveness and the mindset that you can win every hockey game. That's so important, especially in these first couple months of the season when these games mean a difference when it comes to the end."
The Hurricanes, led by a 33-save performance from goaltender Cam Ward, withstood an early offensive flourish by Boston before they took the lead 2:47 into the game. They survived a third-period meltdown by the Bruins to earn the victory. Boston accumulated 72 penalty minutes on the night, including 47 in the third period. Nathan Horton, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic all were sent to the dressing room after picking up 10-minute misconducts in the third period during a stretch that saw Carolina stretch a 2-1 lead to 4-1 by getting goals from Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu while skating 5-on-3.
Horton picked up two roughing minors in addition to the misconduct for attacking Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason in front of the Hurricanes' net. The two exchanged words and stick taps before Horton attacked Gleason, who didn't give in to Horton's whim. The penalties came just 31 seconds after the Bruins had cut Carolina's lead to 2-1.
Horton was not made available to the media after the game and none of his teammates or coach Claude Julien knew what set him off. Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice credited Gleason for keeping his cool.
"We have to play a disciplined game of hockey. We don't take a lot of penalties, but we play hard. We finish checks, and if we've got to take some a little bit for the win, then we have to do that," said Maurice, whose team picked up just 22 penalty minutes. "I was really proud, especially Timmy Gleason, because Timmy's a tough customer, he can handle himself, but that was for the team. That's pretty important in the locker room and it goes a long way because everybody knows how tough Timmy is. It was a very unselfish play by him, and it certainly secured the win for us."
By the end of the evening, Julien had also been ejected and the Bruins even received a bench minor for an object thrown on the ice, as the fans were disgruntled over their team's play and what they translated to be uneven officiating.
However, Julien put the onus on his players to be better both in their play and controlling their emotions after losing for the fourth time in six games this season.
"We have to take responsibility for our own actions here. … And I think what I saw from tonight is that we start off the game well. In the first period we had some great chances, but we're not capitalizing. And what I see is frustration setting in and the minute we start getting frustrated we lose focus of our game and then it gets worse and worse. … So I think it's important that we fight our way through it. … And obviously I'm not on the ice to hear or see everything that's going on as far as the misconducts were concerned, but I think we have to take that responsibility upon ourselves and understand that the referees have a job to do."
The Bruins came right out of the gate with a handful of offensive changes, including a shot from the slot by Rich Peverley that Ward turned away. After the Bruins failed to grab the lead, Anthony Stewart put Carolina up with a goal off a rebound at 2:47.
"That's typical of Boston," Ward said of the opening surge. "They always come out extremely hard in their own building and as long as you weather the storm and come up with some big saves it changes the momentum. Fortunately I was able to do that and we were able to get our feet underneath us and play a much more solid game after that."
Joni Pitkanen made it 2-0 at 10:19 of the second period with a shot at the end of a zone-to-zone rush that eluded Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (19 saves). Later in the second period, the heat of the battle began to rise when Horton and Harrison shoved in front of the Carolina net. Zdeno Chara jumped in to fight Harrison, but both men fell before exchanging blows. The Bruins then had to play the next 17 minutes without their captain and Norris Trophy finalist -- he was assessed two minutes for instigating, a five-minute fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct.
The Bruins managed to survive with Chara in the box. After a third-period scrum resulted in a Bruins power play, Peverley ripped a shot past Ward from the top of the right circle to cut the lead to 2-1 with 9:01 remaining. That's when the mayhem ensued.
Staal and Ruutu tacked on the 5-on-3 goals to put the game away.