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Off to slow starts, Bruins, Hurricanes seek points

by Brian Hunter
BRUINS (1-2-0) at HURRICANES (0-2-1)


Season Series:
First of four meetings. Cam Ward blanked the Bruins in the first matchup last season, but Boston came back to win the final three, including a 7-0 romp on Jan. 17 in which Zdeno Chara recorded a hat trick and Tim Thomas returned the favor by shutting out Carolina.

Big Story:
The teams essentially swapped defenseman during the offseason when the Hurricanes traded Joe Corvo to the Bruins and signed Tomas Kaberle, who had finished last season with the Stanley Cup champions. Neither player nor his new team has gotten off to the start they wanted. Kaberle has no points and is a minus-3 for winless Carolina, while Corvo has an assist as Boston has started its title defense by dropping two of three at home.

Team Scope:

Bruins: This is the start of a brief two-game road trip for Boston, which plays seven of its first nine at TD Garden. The first homestand featured a three-goal win over Tampa Bay sandwiched between one-goal losses to Philadelphia and Colorado in which the Bruins scored a single goal over the course of the two defeats. Making his first start of the season, Tuukka Rask could hardly be faulted Monday afternoon. He stopped 35 of 36 shots, but Milan Hejduk snapped a scoreless tie in the third and Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves as the Avalanche handed the B's a 1-0 loss.

"I think we took today's game way too lightly," forward Milan Lucic told the Boston Globe. "We lost most of the battles. They were first on pucks. Regardless of whether we were the champs last year or not, in certain areas of the ice, they wanted the puck more than us. That's why we weren't able to generate enough to get that goal."

Hurricanes: The fourth game of the season rarely gets labeled a "must-win," but Carolina needs to get some points out of Wednesday's contest with a four-game road trip upcoming. The Hurricanes come off two fairly solid games on the road, but with only one point to show for their efforts. They lost in 4-3 overtime to the Capitals on Saturday, then fell 4-2 to the Devils on Monday afternoon. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Chad LaRose brought the Canes back from a pair of one-goal deficits, but Ward surrendered the go-ahead goal in the third and an empty-netter sealed it.

"I thought we had a pretty good game, we were skating well. We created a lot of good opportunities," LaRose told the Raleigh News & Observer. "We just have to stay positive and not get frustrated."

Who's Hot: The Bruins' goaltenders have picked up right where they left off last season, with Thomas and Rask combining to allow just four goals over the first three games. … Jeff Skinner has 1 goal and 4 assists during a three-game points streak to begin the season and leads the Hurricanes in scoring.

Injury Report:
Boston defenseman Steven Kampfer (sprained MCL) is on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: The Bruins led the League in faceoff percentage entering Tuesday night's games, winning 58 percent of their draws. Gregory Campbell has a 68.4 percent winning percentage. … The Hurricanes will be trying to avoid matching their worst start in the past five years -- they were 0-3-1 to begin the 2006-07 season.

Puck Drop: Boston gave forward Rich Peverley, acquired at last season's trade deadline, a three-year contract extension on Tuesday. Peverley already has 2 goals this season after registering 12 points in 25 playoff games last spring.

"It feels good to not have to worry about the contract on your mind the whole year. But some guys play better in those situations and I've done this actually before, signing a year earlier," he said. "It does help, but it doesn't change the goals in mind that you have."

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