Boston came out slow once again against Florida on Wednesday, but rallied for three goals in the third period to take a 3-1 decision and ended a two-game losing streak.
Carolina comes into this matchup fresh off a 3-2 loss to Washington on Wednesday. The Hurricanes are just 1-3-2 over their last six games and have already begun making changes.
In the last two weeks alone, they've added four players, acquiring defenseman Ian White and forward Brett Sutter for defenseman Anton Babchuk and forward Tom Kostopoulos in a trade with Calgary. They also traded a pair of prospects to Anaheim for forward Ryan Carter and claimed tough guy Troy Bodie off waivers from the Ducks. In turn, they lost enigmatic forward Patrick O'Sullivan on waivers to Minnesota.
Will the moves pay off for the Hurricanes? or is Carolina just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic as they sink back to lottery depths for a second straight season? The Bruins hope it's the latter, or at least that it takes a while for the new pieces to jell so that Boston can pick up two more points at the Hurricanes' expense in this post-holiday matinee.
When and Where
Boston Bruins (12-6-2, 26 points) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (9-10-2, 20 points)
Nov. 26, 12 p.m. (NESN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Head to Head
This is the first of four meetings this season between the Bruins and Hurricanes. The Bruins went 3-1-0 against Carolina last season and hold a 92-64-16-2 all-time record against the franchise that used to call Hartford home. That includes a 51-29-7-1 mark in Boston, where the Bruins have won the last four meetings (not including playoffs.)
Tim Thomas keeps rolling along, as he improved to 11-1-1 with a 1.46 GAA and a .955 save percentage after stopping 31 of the 32 shots he saw in Florida on Wednesday. Against Carolina, he's 7-7-1 with a 2.90 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Tuukka Rask is just 1-5-1 despite a 2.36 GAA and a .935 save percentage, but he is 2-0-0 with a 2.02 GAA and a .931 save percentage against the Hurricanes.
For Carolina, Cam Ward is 9-7-1 with a 2.84 GAA and a .914 save percentage, and is 7-7-2 with a 2.88 GAA, .906 save percentage and one shutout in his career against Boston. Ward missed Wednesday's game against Washington when his wife gave birth to their first son earlier in the day. Justin Peters started Wednesday and took the loss, falling to 0-3-1 on the season after allowing three goals on 38 shots.
- Mark Recchi became just the 13th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500-point plateau after scoring two goals, including the game-winner, on Wednesday in Florida. Recchi, 42, has 567-933-1,500 totals in 1,591 games over his 22-year career. That includes 4-11-15 totals in 20 games this season for Boston.
- In the last meeting between Boston and Carolina, the Bruins became the first NHL team ever to score three short-handed goals on one minor penalty. Daniel Paille, Blake Wheeler and Steve Begin each scored in a 1:04 span at the start of the second period on April 10 with Matt Hunwick in the box for a hooking call at 19:42 of the first.
- It's been just 18 months since these teams met in the second round of the 2009 playoffs, but already more than half the players who appeared in that series are no longer with their teams. The Bruins have just 11 of the 21 players who dressed still on their roster, while just 10 of the 22 players from Carolina's roster remain with the Hurricanes. Dennis Seidenberg also played in that series, but for Carolina, before signing with Florida last summer and being traded to Boston in March.
- Like the Bruins, Carolina began the season in Europe, beating Minnesota 4-3 and 2-1 in a pair of games in Helsinki, Finland. They've won back-to-back games just once since then, beating Florida 3-2 and Edmonton 7-1 on Nov. 6 and 9.
- Eric Staal played his 500th career game on Wednesday against Washington, scoring his 10th goal of year in the process. Staal has had plenty of success against Boston in his career, with 11-12-23 totals with five game-winning goals in 24 games, plus another 4-2-6 in seven playoff games in 2009.
- The Hurricanes have just four man-games lost to injury through 21 games this year. Sergei Samsonov (neck) and Joni Pitkanen (upper body) each missed two games earlier this season, but both are back in the lineup.
- Center Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) remains out indefinitely, but was cleared for contact in practice on Tuesday.
- Left wing Marco Sturm (knee surgery) is expected to be out until at least December.
- Center Trent Whitfield (ruptures Achilles) could miss the entire year.
- Carolina reports no current injuries.
Sergei Samsonov had 164-212-376 totals in 514 games with Boston between 1997-2006 after being selected with the eighth overall pick in 1997. He was traded to Edmonton in 2006 for a package that included the second-round pick the Bruins used to select Milan Lucic. Former Bruin Glen Wesley, whose trade to Hartford netted the Bruins the pick used on Samsonov, remains part of the Carolina organization as the club's director of defensemen development. Seidenberg and Recchi each played for the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes have just five fighting majors this year, and two came from Kostopoulos before he was traded to Calgary. Jay Harrison also has two, while Bodie has one with Carolina after also picking up one with Anaheim. The Bruins have 19 fighting majors in 20 games, but have gone three games without one for the first time this season. Shawn Thornton, Mark Stuart, Greg Campbell and Adam McQuaid lead the club with three fights each and Lucic has two. Last year's series produced two fights, with Lucic bloodying Harrison and Thornton pounding former Bruin Andrew Alberts, who is now with Vancouver.
The Bruins snapped a two-game losing streak with a third-period rally in Florida on Wednesday, but they can't afford to continue falling behind in games. They've dominated the third period all season long, but they need to start putting together better efforts in the first two periods if they want to sustain their early-season success over the long haul. A quick start in Friday's early matinee would be a good first step.