Bruins Bend, Don’t Break In Carolina

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Bruins 5, Hurricanes 3

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter getting swept in their season series a year ago, the Bruins faced a revamped Carolina Hurricanes team in Raleigh on Monday night. Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin got his first start of the season to give Tuukka Rask a rest before Tuesday night’s game against the Devils.

Just over three minutes into the game, after Khudobin got hit with a delay of game penalty for handling the puck outside the trapezoid, Patrice Bergeron found Zdeno Chara at the point in the offensive zone and Chara delivered a pinpoint pass to set up a Brad Marchand one-timer on the shorthand. 1-0 Bruins

Chara took care of business himself on the other side of the Bruins special teams, the power play, just three minutes later when he fired a wrister into the top right corner past Cam Ward, who was blinded by a screening Milan Lucic. A power play goal? A power play goal! That marks the second consecutive game the B’s have tallied a PPG. Maybe we should have waited a bit longer to declare that the PP unit sucks.  2-0 Bruins

After getting dominated through much of the opening period, the ‘Canes managed to get a bit of a spark after a bout between Tim Gleason and Lucic and were able to cut Boston’s lead in half with just over five minutes left in the first when an Eric Staal pass was redirected past Khudobin by Jamie McBain. 2-1 Bruins

Thanks to a Too Many Men penalty and a (garbage) hooking call on Patrice Bergeron, the B’s found themselves on the wrong side of a 5-on-3 power play to open the second period. Like they have time and time again in this young season, Boston’s PK unit came up with an impressive kill, one highlighted by a fantastic Khudobin glove save. That kind of leather work might be useful this summer…

Despite giving the ‘Canes six power play opportunities on the night, the B’s managed to maintain their 100% efficiency on the penalty kill, bringing them to a perfect 23 for 23 on the season.

In the closing minutes of the second, Nathan Horton and Jeff Skinner traded a couple of beautiful goals made possible by some suspect defense. After Alex Semin just decided to abruptly call it a shift during a B’s possession, Nathan Horton undressed Tim Gleason with a nifty toe drag and then went top shelf on Ward. 3-1 Bruins 

But Skinner turned a Shawn Thornton giveaway  into a pretty goal of his own at the expense of Andrew Ference, who was badly caught out of position on the play. Skinner’s unassisted effort was his fifth goal on the season and marked the fourth straight game he has buried one. 3-2 Bruins

Then, just 50 seconds later, an awful Chris Kelly giveaway in the B’s defensive zone set up a Semin-to-Staal equalizing strike in front of Khudobin. 3-3 

With most of the third period featuring deadlocked, fast-paced action, the Bruins pulled ahead for good when Dougie Hamilton set up David Krejci with a sick no-look pass late in the third. Hamilton showed great poise and patience by waiting for an opening to feed Krejci backdoor instead of firing a shot on net himself. 4-3 Bruins

An eyebrow-raising moment came in the game’s final seconds when Patrice Bergeron and Jeff Skinner had to be separated immediately after Tyler Seguin tallied his first goal of the season on an empty Carolina net. The usually unflappable Bergeron was furious and wanted to drop the gloves with Skinner, leading me to believe Skinner must have done something pretty bad to ignite such a fire under Bergy. 5-3 Bruins

3 Stars

  1. Zdeno Chara – 1 G, 2 A, 3 P, +1
  2. David Krejci – 1 G (GWG), 1 A, 2 P, +1
  3. Eric Staal – 1 G, 1 A, 2 P, +2

Positives: 

  • Anton Khudobin- The score might not indicate it, but Khudobin played pretty well in his coming-out party for 2013. Some really bad defense made his job a lot tougher than it probably should have been, but he made some big saves and was able to limit the damage. If he can put together performances like this throughout the season, he’ll be a valuable asset for the Bruins as they try to keep Tuukka fresh through the condensed season.
  • Special Teams – Not only did the PK stay perfect on the season, but the B’s got on the board via a shorty AND a powerplay goal. Not a bad night.
  • Forecheck- The Bruins started extremely strong and brought the pressure on the forecheck, creating turnovers and scoring opportunities early on. Carolina tightened up a bit as the game went on but the B’s didn’t relent.
  • Dougie Hamilton – Hard not to get caught up in “Dougie Mania” here in Boston. The kid looks like the puck-moving defenseman who isn’t scared to shoot that the Bruins have been desperately looking for.

Negatives:

  • Penalties- Just because your PK unit is performing well doesn’t mean you should send them out there as often as possible. Six power plays is a few too many. 
  • Third & Fourth Lines – The Merlot Line had a very strong showing this weekend but didn’t bring more of the same on Monday. Both the third and fourth lines had some opportunities but came up empty and had some costly, inexcusable turnovers that paved the way for Carolina to climb back in the game.
  • End Of The Second – The B’s had a chance to head into the game’s final period with their foot on Carolina’s throat with a 3-1 lead. Instead, some defensive lapses and costly turnovers led to two goals in 50 seconds for the ‘Canes and both teams headed into the second intermission all tied up. The Bruins are lucky that didn’t come back to haunt them.
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Pete Blackburn
Founder & lead editor of The Nosebleeds. Journalism graduate of Endicott College, Class of 2013. Boston born & raised. Lover of sports, binge television watching, music that doesn't suck & everything '90s. Not a tall drink of water. Follow @PeteBlackburn