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GAME: Boston Bruins (39-18-14-7) at Carolina Hurricanes (28-32-13-6).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Boston Bruins came through one of their toughest weeks of the season with a new outlook on how good they are and how far they can go in the playoffs.

The Bruins will try for their ninth win in 13 games this month when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.

Boston picked up six points last week, and is now tied with Toronto atop the Northeast Division with 99. The Bruins are also tied for second overall in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Philadelphia.

"It was a big test," Boston goaltender Andrew Raycroft said. "We knew it would be a big week for us."

Boston beat playoff-bound Tampa Bay and Ottawa before losing to Toronto on Thursday. However, the Bruins rebounded to edge Montreal on Saturday 3-2.

"I thought it was a real good week," Boston coach Mike Sullivan said. "It was a week where it was a sure measuring stick."

In order to grab the top spot in the conference, which will guarantee them home-ice in the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Bruins will likely need to win their final four games and hope the Maple Leafs and Lightning stumble. Tampa Bay leads Boston and Toronto by five points with two to play.

Oft-injured Sergei Samsonov, who has played in just 62 games over the last two seasons, had two goals and an assist in Saturday's win and has five points in his last three games.

The Hurricanes are coming off Monday's 3-1 loss in Florida.

Carolina, which came in with the NHL's worst power play, was 0-for-6 with the man advantage. The Hurricanes, who have failed on their last 23 chances, failed to even get a shot on goal during a five-on-three that lasted 1:12 in the first period.

Josef Vasicek, who is tied for the team scoring lead, left the ice in the second period after being hit in the face by a deflected slap shot. He returned in the third and will likely be in the lineup on Tuesday.

STANDINGS: Bruins - 99 points, 1st place (tied), Northeast Division. Hurricanes - 75 points, 3rd place, 29 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Glen Murray, 30 goals; Joe Thornton, 48 assists and 70 points; Doug Doull, 127 PIM. Hurricanes - Vasicek, 18 goals; Justin Williams, 30 assists; Vasicek and Williams, 41 points; Jesse Boulerice, 125 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 28): Bruins - Power play: 16.2 percent (45 for 278), 15th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.9 percent (266 for 317), 18th. Hurricanes - Power play: 10.9 percent (40 for 368), 30th. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (282 for 343), 23rd.

GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Raycroft (28-17-8, 3 SO, 2.00 GAA); Felix Potvin (11-8-6, 4, 2.52). Hurricanes - Kevin Weekes (23-28-10, 6, 2.26); Arturs Irbe (5-2-1, 0, 1.97).

SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 21; Tie, 3-3, OT. At Raleigh, N.C., Brian Rolston scored with 7:19 left in the third period to give the Bruins a 3-3 tie and a point for the 12th straight game. Ron Francis, since traded to Toronto, scored his 544th goal in the first period for the Hurricanes, tying Maurice Richard for 20th place on the NHL's career list.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bruins - 21-7-6-5 on the road; Hurricanes - 13-16-8-2 at home.

Associated Press
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