BRUINS (23-19-8) at HURRICANES (15-28-7)
Boston 2-7-1; Carolina 5-5-0
Second of four meetings this season. Marc Savard
had a goal and two assists, Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler scored 26 seconds apart in the first period and seven different players tallied for the Bruins in a 7-2 win on Oct. 3 at the TD Garden.
The potent offense Boston was able to depend upon last season and in that earlier game against Carolina has gone dormant in the absence of Savard, one of the League's top playmakers, who is out with a partially torn MCL. He has been skating with the team, though a timetable has not been given on his return. The Bruins hope it's soon, because they've dropped right into the middle of a battle for the final Eastern Conference playoff spots.
A 2-1 loss to Ottawa on Saturday afternoon was Boston's fourth straight and seventh in eight games. The Bruins have scored just 15 goals during that stretch, an average of less than two per game.
"I think everyone's working hard," said forward Daniel Paille
, who scored the lone goal against the Senators. "I just don't think we've got that emotion right now with that fierce intensity we used to get when we were on a hot streak.
"It's definitely struggling for us to go through right now. But it's something we need to battle through and start (Sunday). That's going to be Carolina, it's not going to be easy. They're playing well, too, and we've got to be better."
For the second afternoon in a row, Carolina will have the opportunity to escape last place in the overall standings and pass Edmonton with a win. The Hurricanes couldn't take advantage Saturday in Philadelphia, as they surrendered a pair of goals to Jeff Carter and fell 4-2 to the Flyers. New captain Eric Staal
and his predecessor, Rod Brind'Amour, scored power-play goals in the loss.
"We got better as the game went on," said goalie Cam Ward
, who made 20 saves in relief of Manny Legace. "In the third period, an inch here or an inch there, we had the opportunities to tie it up."
Paille now has three goals and an assist in his last five games for the Bruins. … Staal recorded a hat trick in his first game as Hurricanes captain and has four goals and three assists during a four-game points streak. He's tied Ray Whitney for the team scoring lead with 37 points.
In addition to Savard, the Bruins also have defenseman Andrew Ference
(groin) and forwards Marco Sturm (leg) and Steve Begin (undisclosed) on injured reserve. Forward Byron Bitz also missed Saturday's game for undisclosed reasons.
Legace left Saturday's game in the first period after a case of pink eye acted up and affected his vision. The Hurricanes were already without defenseman Joe Corvo
(leg) and forwards Scott Walker (shoulder), Tuomo Ruutu
(upper body) and Erik Cole (upper body).
Boston goalie Tim Thomas
has won his last five starts against Carolina with a 1.58 goals-against average, though Tuukka Rask
could be in line to play after Thomas faced Ottawa on Saturday. … Ward's streak of 17 consecutive starts ended against Philadelphia, although he still ended up playing 52 minutes.
These teams meet in Carolina for the first time since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, when Boston won to extend the series to a seventh game. The Hurricanes would win it in a Game 7 overtime, but were swept in the conference finals by Pittsburgh, and little has gone right since.