BOSTON – The Boston Bruins got the bounce-back performance they needed to snap a two-game losing streak on Saturday at TD Garden.
Goalie Tuukka Rask stopped 33 of 34 shots and Patrice Bergeron's second of two Bruins first-period goals stood up as the game-winner in a 2-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Bruins were defeated by a combined score of 11-2 in their previous two games on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens earlier this week. In Rask's last start Tuesday in Toronto, he was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 16 shots.
Rask said after practice Friday that he would have a "bounce-back" game.
"Well, maybe I meant to say 'we,' I said 'me,' " said Rask, who improved to 9-5-0. "But you're always going to feel confident about your game. You're not going to say I'm going to have a bad game tomorrow. But I thought I played a solid 60 [minutes on Saturday], saw the puck pretty well and we defended pretty good. Although I don't think it was the most entertaining game to watch, it was pretty slow at times there, it was a good win."
Boston (11-8-0) has won five in a row on home ice. In an effort to shake up his team, coach Claude Julien changed his defense pairs and inserted Matt Bartkowski for Zach Trotman. Bartkowski, who had been a healthy scratch for seven games, played with Torey Krug. Dougie Hamilton skated with Joe Morrow and Dennis Seidenberg formed a pair with Adam McQuaid. Seidenberg and McQuaid had the assignment against Carolina center Eric Staal's line.
Although the Bruins earned two points, Julien believes there's plenty of room for improvement.
"It's better. Obviously a step in the right direction," Julien said. "I thought we were overall better, the second period was better. Certainly not where we want to be yet. But when you've gone through what you've gone through the last two games, I don't think you're just going to turn the page and all of a sudden be what you were. We've got to build ourselves back up there, and [Saturday] was a good start."
The Hurricanes outshot the Bruins 15-4 in the third period but Rask kept them off the board. Goaltender Cam Ward stopped 23 of 25 shots and Jiri Tlusty scored for Carolina (5-8-3), which lost to Boston for the sixth time in the past seven games.
"We just tried to get back to what we did in the first period and that's throw some pucks at the net," Ward said. "I think we only had four shots [three] in the second period. So we had to get back to throwing pucks at the net, because Tuukka Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the League so you got to make it difficult for them."
Carolina scored first 7:05 into the first period. At the end of a lengthy shift in the Boston zone, Tlusty one-timed a shot from the top of the right circle past Rask for a 1-0 lead.
The Hurricanes had a golden opportunity to increase their lead when Bruins forward Reilly Smith was called for goaltender interference and 17 seconds later McQuaid went to the box for hooking, but the Bruins killed all 1:47 of the 5-on-3. They limited the Hurricanes to one shot on net during the two-man advantage and that set the stage for a comeback.
Seth Griffith tied the game with a little help from some struggles with the puck by Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera, who missed the puck in the neutral zone and after going back to retrieve it got nothing on a cross-ice pass to partner Justin Faulk. Griffith and Faulk hacked at the puck at the same time, and it went past Ward and Sekera at 14:24 to tie the score.
Bergeron put the Bruins ahead before the period ended. His one-timer from the right hash mark went through screens by Smith and defenseman Ron Hainsey before beating Ward at 19:10 to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
Considering how things went for the Bruins in the past two games, they easily could have packed up shop after falling behind. But they managed to keep their heads up despite the early deficit.
"We fought hard. It was a bad mistake on the first goal; a lot of mistakes maybe," Rask said. "And then you fall behind, then 5-on-4, 5-on-3, you win those special teams battles and it kind of gives you the extra boost to move forward. And then we got the lucky goal and that kind of got us going a little bit more even. And it was good. But the biggest thing, I think, was to kill that 5-on-3."