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Hurricanes-Bruins Preview @NHL

Already one of the NHL's top offenses, the Boston Bruins have cranked things up and won three straight thanks in part to the play of Phil Kessel, David Krejci and Michael Ryder.

If recent history wins over recent performance, though, that trio might face some difficulty Saturday when Boston (22-5-4) opens its season series with the Carolina Hurricanes (15-12-5).

Kessel extended his point streak to 16 games with two goals and an assist in Thursday's 8-5 victory over Toronto. Ryder scored a goal for the third straight game and the 22-year-old Krejci recorded his first career hat trick, giving him eight points in the last three games.

"If you give him some room, I think he can score some goals," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Krejci. "He's a good player who makes everyone around him better."

Those three Bruins haven't been good against Carolina.

Kessel, who has 14 goals and 25 points during his streak, has one goal in eight meetings with the Hurricanes. Krejci has 23 points in his last 13 games, but has none in three games versus Carolina. Ryder has scored six times in the past six games, but has just three goals and eight points in 16 career meetings with the Hurricanes.

The Bruins are averaging an Eastern Conference-leading 3.61 goals per game this season and have scored 19 during their three-game win streak. Boston has won eight of nine overall, scoring at least four goals in seven of those games.

With 48 points in their first 31 games, the Bruins are off to their best start in 35 years.

Plus, Boston has won 12 in a row at TD Banknorth Garden, its longest home winning streak since a 16-game run from Jan. 10-March 25, 1976. However, the Hurricanes have won their last four games in Boston and nine of the last 12 meetings overall.

Carolina is 3-0-3 in its last six thanks to a renewed defense and improved goaltending under new coach Paul Maurice. The Hurricanes have given up two goals or fewer in four of those games, including a 2-1 overtime victory Thursday over Florida.

Maurice, who coached the team from 1995-2003, was rehired on Dec. 3 when coach Peter Laviolette was fired.

"Since (Maurice) has gotten here we're making plays in our own end," Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour told the team's official Web site. "We're not just firing the puck around so much. We're not just throwing it away. Puck possession is key, and our 'D' is playing way better, making better break-out passes. We're playing our best hockey so far this year, for sure."

So is goalie Cam Ward, yielding two goals or fewer in six straight appearances while going 3-1-1 with a 1.81 goals-against average. He's 6-1-2 with a 2.43 GAA in nine starts versus the Bruins.

The Hurricanes' top three scorers have carried the offense lately. Brind'Amour has an assist in five straight games to reach 700 in his career. Ray Whitney, who has a team-leading 25 points, has three goals and five assists in his last seven. Eric Staal had five goals and two assists during a four-game point streak before it was snapped Thursday.

That trio has done well against Boston. Whitney has 10 points in the last six meetings, Staal has a point in all but two of his 16 career games versus the Bruins with nine goals and 12 assists, and Brind'Amour has four goals and 12 points in his last nine games against them.

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