HURRICANES (35-36-10) at BRUINS (37-30-13)
Carolina 5-3-2; Boston 6-3-1
This is the last of four meetings. On Oct. 3, Boston scored three goals each in the first and second periods, and four total power-play goals, for a 7-2 home win. On Jan. 24, goaltender Cam Ward
set the franchise mark with his 131st career victory and led the Hurricanes to a 5-1 home win. On March 16, the Bruins scored three goals in the third period for a 5-2 road win.
One season removed from entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins are fighting for their postseason lives as four teams are in contention for the final three spots. After Saturday, Boston has one game left at Washington, which is a tough assignment, while two other contending teams, the Rangers and the Flyers, will battle each other in Philadelphia.
Carolina is playing its final game of the regular season. The Hurricanes are coming off a 5-2 victory against Montreal on Thursday at RBC Center.
Carolina captain Eric Staal
scored three goals and two assists and Chad LaRose
added two goals and two assists in his first career four-point game. He and Staal scored 3 1/2 minutes apart in the second period to help the Hurricanes win their second straight.
Because of injuries and other personnel changes, there were 10 Carolina players active for the home finale who didn't skate in the Oct. 2 season opener. Some of the loudest cheers of the night came when a scoreboard video was shown featuring NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman congratulating the "Caniacs" for helping land the 2010 All-Star Game.
Boston is playing its second-to-last game and home finale at TD Garden.
On Thursday, the Bruins scored an important 3-1 home victory against Buffalo to move into sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Dennis Wideman snapped a 1-1 tie with the go-ahead goal early in the third period, and Mark Recchi added an insurance goal late in the period. Miroslav Satan tallied in the second period and goaltender Tuukka Rask
made 33 saves for the win.
"For sure it was a big game for us. It was big points on the line and so we are happy with the win and we got to get ready for next game," Chara said. "We'll see what’s going to happen around the League, but we can't be relying on other teams losing. We got to keep moving forward and try to win as many games as possible 'til the end, which is two games left."
For the Hurricanes, Staal has 5 goals and 4 assists in three games, LaRose has 3 goals and 4 assists in three games, Brandon Sutter
has 3 goals and 2 assists in six games, and Jussi Jokinen
has 3 goals and 4 assists in six games. … For the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron
has a goal and an assist in three games, Satan has 3 goals in three games, Wideman has 2 goals and an assist in three games, and Chara has 3 assists in three games.
For the Hurricanes, Tuomo Ruutu
(shoulder) and Tim Gleason
(foot) are out for the season, and Joni Pitkanen
(lower-body) and Alexandre Picard (upper-body) is day-to-day. … For the Bruins, Marc Savard
(concussion) is on injured reserve, and Andrew Ference
(groin), Dennis Seidenberg
(wrist), Mark Stuart (hand) and Shawn Thornton
(upper-body) are day-to-day.
Center Rod Brind'Amour is one assist shy of 300 in his Hurricanes career. … Through games of Dec. 26, the Hurricanes had been outscored by their opponents 136-90, a differential of 46 goals. Since Dec. 28, the team has outscored its opponents 134-111, cutting the season differential to 23 goals. … Carolina's penalty kill has allowed a team to score two power-play goals in a game just twice since Jan. 14. In the team's 33 games since Jan. 16, the PK has gone 93-for-113. … Rask has a 1.99 goals-against average. The last Bruins goalie to finish a season with a GAA under 2.00 was Byron Dafoe in 1998-99 (1.99). … The Bruins have taken 30-or-more shots in 49 games with a 25-15-9 record.
"Obviously, it's quite a bit easier to get excited for a hockey game when you’ve got (two) games left in the year and you're fighting for a playoff spot. That's not an excuse, obviously, not to be ready to go in the middle of the season, but it's easier to be ready this time of year." -- Wideman to the Boston Herald.