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GAME: Boston Bruins (30-14-11-6) at Carolina Hurricanes (18-27-11-3).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Boston Bruins have the NHL's best road mark. They're also not far from having the best record in the league.

Boston looks to end a very successful road trip with their third straight win when they face the Carolina Hurricanes.

After enduring a 3-7-5 December, it looked like the Bruins would be battling just to make the playoffs over the final three months of the season.

Few teams, however, have been as good as Boston in 2004, with a 16-3-2-2 record that has moved them within one point of Toronto for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Rookie Patrice Bergeron snapped a tie in the second period and Glen Murray continued his torrid scoring with a goal, leading the Bruins to a 4-3 victory at Philadelphia on Thursday.

Hal Gill and Rob Zamuner also scored for the Bruins, who haven't lost in regulation since being beaten by Florida on Jan. 24. They are 8-0-1-2 in the last 11 games.

Boston is 4-0-0-2 on the trip and owns the NHL's best road record at 18-6-4-5.

"It's huge. At this point in the season, all the players are aware of who's where in the standings," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "It seems every game we go into is a big game."

Murray has 13 goals and five assists in his last 14 games. Captain Joe Thornton is also contributing regularly, with five goals and nine assists in his past eight contests.

With backup Felix Potvin winning Thursday, rookie Andrew Raycroft figures to be back in net Saturday. Raycroft has won six of his last seven decisions, allowing more than two goals just once in his last 11 starts.

Carolina has been reduced to the role of spoiler, sitting 13th in the East with too much ground to make up on the eighth-place New York Islanders.

The Hurricanes' lack of offense was the problem again Thursday in a 2-1 overtime loss to visiting Toronto.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs 35-22, Carolina was held to one goal or fewer for the 26th time this season. The Hurricanes have scored a league-low 113 goals.

"It's been kind of a frustrating deal all year long," Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican said. "We play hard and we try to outwork teams and I think for the most part early in the season we were outworking teams. Getting the result we got tonight, that takes the wind out of the sails."

Right wing Justin Williams could be back in the lineup Saturday after missing three games with what was originally diagnosed as a broken left wrist. A checkup Wednesday proved that Williams had only a contusion and not a complete break.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 19): Bruins - 77 points, 2nd place (tied), 1 PB, Northeast Division. Hurricanes - 50 points, 4th place, 23 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Murray, 25 goals; Thornton, 43 assists and 59 points; Doug Doull, 103 PIM. Hurricanes - Josef Vasicek, 15 goals; Williams, 22 assists and 31 points; Jesse Boulerice, 95 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 19): Bruins - Power play: 16.4 percent (37 for 226), 13th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.4 percent (206 for 247), 20th. Hurricanes - Power play: 11.4 percent (31 for 272), 29th. Penalty killing: 81.1 percent (206 for 254), 26th.

GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Raycroft (21-13-6, 3 SO, 1.92 GAA); Potvin (9-7-5, 3, 2.77). Hurricanes - Kevin Weekes (18-22-9, 6, 2.26); Arturs Irbe (no appearances).

SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 20; Hurricanes, 2-1. At Boston, Radim Vrbata and Eric Staal scored goals, and Weekes made 37 saves for Carolina.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bruins - 18-6-4-5 on the road; Hurricanes - 11-12-7-2 at home.

Associated Press
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