Carolina Completes Season Sweep, But Bruins See Issues More in Their Own Game Than With Hurricanes

Carolina Completes Season Sweep, But Bruins See Issues More in Their Own Game Than With HurricanesBOSTON — The Bruins have lost just 15 of their first 49 games in regulation this season and sit atop the Northeast Division, second in the Eastern Conference.

Carolina sits dead last in the East, with just 19 wins in 53 games.

Yet after Thursday's 3-0 blanking of the Bruins, the Hurricanes finish the season series a perfect 4-0-0 against the reigning Cup champs.

"It's tough," Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. "They're a good team. You look at the standings and they're not where they want to be, but they, especially against us, they play some good hockey. And they seem to have our number. But, you know, still giving credit to them they're playing good but we, in these four games we've played, we haven't played our best either."

The Bruins were certainly far from their best on Thursday. They outshot Carolina 22-8 in the opening period, but didn't create many legitimate scoring chances and the Hurricanes went into the first intermission up 1-0. Carolina then added single goals in each of the last two periods, with Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward barely breaking a sweat despite finishing with 47 saves for his third shutout of the season.

"I felt really comfortable," Ward said. "I felt like I was seeing the puck well and for the most part I was really happy with my rebound control and we had to get off to a good start because we know that they play extremely hard, especially in their building. To walk away out of the first period with a 1-0 lead, we felt good about that and improved our play in the second period.

"I think it's a credit to the guys when we play like that we're capable of beating very good teams," Ward added. "It's no secret that they're once again Stanley Cup contenders and to beat them four times is a huge compliment to our team, but we have to play every team like it's the Boston Bruins. It seems like they bring out the best in us."

The Bruins could also use a few games where they actually play like the Boston Bruins again. While not trying to take any credit away from the Hurricanes, the Bruins recognized the season sweep in general, and Thursday's loss in particular, had a lot more to do with what the Bruins didn't do than what the Hurricanes actually did.

"I don't think it's about Carolina," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "I think it's just about us not executing and not playing well. Yeah they are a great team, I'm not trying to take anything away from them. They are playing well. They are playing hard. They are a good team, but that being said I think the goals they got were all our fault."

The Hurricanes were happy with their success against the Bruins, but they'd still trade the rest of Boston's results this season for the four wins they've managed in the head-to-head matchups.

"As a team, as a whole, we played a pretty good game," Carolina captain Eric Staal said. "Obviously [Boston is] a very good team, and it feels good to beat them four times, but I would rather be them. I'm sure everyone in our room would say the same, rather be first in the conference and lose to the last-place team four times. But that's the way it goes, and we'll continue to try and build and climb up that conference, and try and beat teams like that in front of us."

The Bruins, meanwhile, can take some solace in the fact they won't have to face the Hurricanes again this year, and can look to correct the issues in their own game against opponents they've fared a bit better against.

"There are certain teams during certain years that will give you a hard time, and they have," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "They've played us well, and they've made it hard on us. At the same time, they've come in here with lots of confidence. They beat us the last three games, I'd say pretty soundly, and so that's what the situation is."

The situation for the Bruins is that they've allowed eight possible points against a beatable opponent to slip away. That could prove costly when it comes to playoff seeding and trying to lock up home ice. But it will be even more costly if they allow these types of performances to continue against other opponents.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

© 2015 New England Sports Network.

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