The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Boston Bruins 5-1 Friday afternoon in the traditional post-Thanksgiving matinee at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Both squads seemed a little slow at the start of the game, perhaps due to the strange schedule surrounding the holiday, and both the Carolina and Boston teams sleepwalked through a pretty meandering first session.
But the Hurricanes woke from their own turkey coma first, as late in the first, Carolina's Eric Staal took a pass from Trevor Letowski and bested Bruins starting goalie Tim Thomas
at 18:37 on the power play.
However, if there was a story in the first period, it was goaltending as Thomas made 14 saves in the first continuing his very fine play for the Bruins, while ex-Bruin John Grahame stopped all 10 Boston attempts.
The second stanza was a tough one for the hometown team as the Hurricanes showed the form that won them their first Stanley Cup last season, and by the time the dust had settled, Thomas had been pulled for his new back up, Phillipe Sauve -- fresh from a trip up 95 from the Providence Bruins as the Hurricanes scored back-to-back goals in scary fashion.
Justin Williams scored at 10:35 of the second period and Erik Cole scored at 10:44, leading to Thomas' hasty skate to the Bruins bench -- a move that was not applauded by the Garden faithful, as Thomas had made 25 stops, several being of the outstanding variety.
"The first period wasn't that bad," said Bruins head coach Dave Lewis. "I thought we had some chances…but the second period it sort've blew up in our face.
"When you play the team that won the Stanley Cup last year, you can't give them opportunities…we turned the puck over way too much."
Moreover, the goalie switch seemed to do little in terms of a spark for the offense until, at 15:53, Patrice Bergeron
brought the crowd back into the game with his seventh goal, from Marc Savard
, to put the score at 3-1 going into the second break.
However, the Hurricanes kept coming and stifled several Boston scoring opportunities at the start of the third period, and bided their time until Eric Bellanger took a feed from Letowski and Commodore to score his fifth goal of the season and made the score 4-1.
And as the game continued, it became apparent that Carolina's Graham had come to play, as he continuously stymied the Bruins throughout the afternoon and finished the game with 25 saves.
Andrew Ladd scored the backbreaker at 14:06, to put Carolina up 5-1.
After the game, Lewis applauded Thomas' efforts and said pulling the goalie had nothing to do with his play.
"I thought he was our best player," said Lewis. "He was outstanding and I didn't want to subject him to any more of their attack.
"So that was the reason why he was [pulled].
"We had 19 players that were really off their game tonight and he was the one guy who had his game," he said.
"Timmy played awesome for us," said Shean Donovan. "He really gave us a chance to win…in the second we didn't play very well at all."
Thomas had no panic in his voice post-game and seemed certain that the Bruins have the tools necessary to put this game behind them.
"I think it would just take us playing the way that we can play, doing the stuff we know we are supposed to do," said Thomas. "It isn't that we have to do anything new, or find a new way to play.
"We have to stay with the…way that we play that works -- making the hits, blocking shots and making the plays when they are there, but making the simple play when they are not there."
Thomas seemed sure that the Bruins would not make the same mistakes versus the Maple Leafs in the next two games.
"We know what we are supposed to do," he said and then he started packing for Canada.
"We know that the team is better than we were today, and we'll try to play tomorrow like we played against Pittsburgh and Washington."
Following two games with the Maple Leafs in Toronto, the Bruins return to the Garden on Thursday, November 30th when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:00.
Tickets are available for all home games online by clicking here
, at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 617.624.BEAR.