BOSTON - The Carolina Hurricanes were deadlocked with the league's top team in a scoreless game until the final minutes of regulation, when the Boston Bruins scored two quick goals en route to a 2-0 shutout win.
Jaroslav Halak turned away 24 Hurricanes' shots in his 500th NHL game, and Charlie Coyle scored the game-winning goal with 4:05 left in regulation.
Here are five takeaways from snowy Boston.
1. A Solid Road Game …
The Hurricanes went toe-to-toe with the league's top team, a team that has yet to lose at home in regulation this season. The Canes limited their chances against, got some looks of their own, stayed out of the box (for the most part) and stuck to their game plan.
It was a solid road game - for nearly 56 minutes of a 60-minute game.
"Our mindset going into the game was just keeping it simple, especially against the group they have," Jaccob Slavin said. "For the most part, we played a pretty hard game. It's kind of a kick down there."
"It was a tight game. I'm sure they'd say the same thing. There weren't a lot of chances either way," Jordan Staal said. "It was almost a little bit of a chess match towards the end to see who would give."
2. … Until
With a little more than four minutes left in regulation, Jake Gardiner tried to shimmy around Danton Heinan at the blue line in the offensive zone, but Heinan was able to poke the puck free and spring the Bruins on a rush. Brad Marchand then delivered a quick-hitter to Charlie Coyle in front, and in the tap of a stick and the blink of an eye, Boston broke the scoreless deadlock.
"We were trying to make a play and win the game, which you want. You want guys to do that. It's just, at certain times of the game, maybe it's better to just live to fight another day," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "It's not a lack of effort. We were just trying to do too much at probably the wrong time of the game. Can't do that against these guys. That's what happens. It's a tough lesson, again."
Just 68 seconds later, David Krejci redirected Charlie McAvoy's point shot to stick the dagger in the Canes.
Video: CAR Recap: Reimer, Hurricanes shut out by Bruins
A tough lesson, and a frustrating loss after having played 56 otherwise airtight minutes.
"It's frustrating, obviously. Guys worked hard," Staal said. "I thought we played really well for a majority of the game."
"We were working hard and desperate in our end. It was a solid game up until the last five minutes," Brind'Amour said. "It was one of those where, which team was going to make the error? And we did."
3. Reimer Delivers Strong Performance
The Hurricanes turned back to James Reimer in net after he made 36 saves in his third consecutive win on Saturday in Tampa.
He delivered another gem against one of the league's most potent offenses.
"He played a heck of a game. He's been really great lately," Slavin said. "He made some really big saves for us."
"He's been solid. Tonight, he kept us in the game," Brind'Amour said. "Their guy made some nice saves, too."
Halak stopped all 24 shots he saw, handing the Canes their second shutout loss in their last three games.
4. Stout Penalty Kill
Both teams were whistled for two penalties in the first period - and that was it. Part of the Hurricanes' strategy in mitigating one of the league's best power plays? Keep it off the ice by staying out of the box. They did that, for the most part, but when they were tasked with a kill, they stymied the Bruins.
"Good sticks, getting in lanes, making good reads, making sure they don't get an easy entry and keep their zone time limited," Staal said. "I thought we did a good job on the PK."
At one end, Jaccob Slavin made a specatular defensive play, dropping to the ice and knifing away Jake DeBrusk's centering feed on a 2-on-1 rush. Then, Slavin jumped into the rush down the ice, kicking the puck to his stick, putting his shoulder down and driving the net. He backhanded a shot that somehow found its way into the net, and Jaroslav Halak was perplexed. A closer look at the play revealed what happened: The puck went through the side of the net, ripping right through the netting. No goal.
"That's the first time I've ever put a puck through the net," Slavin said. "I wish it went in, though."
An incredible end-to-end sequence, no doubt, but not the payoff the Canes thought they saw.
The Hurricanes now return home for a pair of Western Conference match-ups against San Jose and Minnesota on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
"We know in this locker room the team we can be," Slavin said. "When we're on, we can play with the best teams in the league."