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Soderberg sparks Bruins past Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- If his credentials in the Swedish Elite League are any indication, Boston Bruins forward Carl Soderberg will transition nicely into the NHL.

On Monday night, he spoiled goalie Cam Ward's return by scoring a goal and an assist in Boston's 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

"What I expect from myself I keep to myself," said Soderberg, whose 31 goals led the SEL last season. "I don't know if there are expectations on me to score, but hopefully I can score maybe 15 goals this season."

He will if he can build off his performance against Carolina. With the score tied 1-1, he scored the go-ahead goal at 10:24 of the first period by redirecting Dennis Seidenberg's shot for the eventual game winner.

Ward was back in net after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. He stopped 26 of 29 shots in the loss.

"It felt really good to get back in the net," he said. "Dealing with injuries is not an easy thing. I hate losing, but in the second and third periods, I felt a lot better about my game."

Soderberg has two goals and eight points in 14 games this season. After appearing in eight games between the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs for Boston in 2012-13, it appears Soderberg is beginning to adjust to the NHL game.

"He's coming around," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "He was a good player last year in Sweden and that's all we've heard. You're starting see some of those traits you've heard about. He's got a pretty heavy stick around the net-front area."

Soderberg improved steadily in nine professional seasons in Sweden before the 28-year-old joined the Bruins last season. Indeed, he has a leg up on most first-year NHLers.

So how has the transition been?

"Pretty easy," he said. "It was tough last year. I came after a long season in Sweden and I didn't play in games for four or five weeks before I got (to Boston). Then I had the whole summer and I had a good workout so I knew the system. So everything was pretty smooth."

Soderberg set up the first goal just 2:31 into the game. From the right side of the net, Soderberg fed Reilly Smith at the far post for a tap-in on the power play. Smith also picked up an assist on Soderberg's goal.

The Bruins carried much of the play in the first period, but they lost some momentum when Carolina scored with five seconds remaining. Hurricanes captain Eric Staal's centering pass deflected off of Boston forward Patrice Bergeron and then Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask could only watch as the puck slipped into the net.

"You never want to score one in your own net, but those things happen and there's nothing you can do about it," said Rask, who stopped 23 shots for his 11th win of the season. "I was going across and Bergeron blocked that pass. I had to stop my momentum and get back there. It's tough."

But the Bruins didn't let the late Carolina goal deflate them.

"It was important for us to come back in the second period and try to regain some momentum, and we did," Julien said. "We didn't lose our composure and that was impressive for me."

Boston's resolve was tested in the middle of the second period, when the Hurricanes had a two-man advantage for 1:03. With Johnny Boychuk off for tripping and Gregory Campbell for delay of game, the Bruins had to stave off Carolina's bid to tie the game. The Hurricanes' best chance came on Chris Terry's one-timer from the high slot, but Rask stopped it with his glove.

"I think it came down to that our PK was great," Bruins forward Jarome Iginla said. 'We had to come up really big on that 5-on-3 in a one-goal game. That was a huge part of it."

The Bruins, who have killed 32 straight penalties, managed to keep the Hurricanes away from the net for most of the power play.

"We won faceoffs and we were in the right place to ice the puck," Julien said. "We iced it three times. With 1:03, they could have spent a lot more time in our end, but we didn't give them that opportunity. Our guys were in the right position, so we got what we wanted out of it."

With a 2-1 lead heading to the third period, Boychuk gave Boston some breathing room when he beat Ward from the top of the right circle at 10:29 for his first goal of the season. Milan Lucic added an empty-net goal with 11 seconds remaining.

The Hurricanes lost their second straight, and their first without Alexander Semin, who suffered an upper-body injury against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. Combined with the continued absence of Jeff Skinner to an upper-body injury, the Hurricanes' offense wasn't a consistent threat.

"Three games in four night, and we need 20 bodies going," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "Losing Semin the other night, we get our bench shortened up a bit. When you see us rolling four lines in those last couple of weeks and we have been picking up the wins, we're a much better team. I thought the guys gave it a hard battle. It just wasn't enough to come back."

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