In the last two meetings between the clubs, special teams have played a decisive role.
The Bruins closed out their regular-season home slate last year by hosting Carolina on April 10, and posted a 4-2 victory by making history on the penalty kill.
After Matt Hunwick took a hooking call with 18 seconds left in the first period, the Bruins opened the second shorthanded. But that didn’t slow their offense, as Daniel Paille scored 32 seconds in. Then Blake Wheeler added a shorthanded goal at 1:21, and with Hunwick still looking on from the penalty box, Steve Begin also scored at 1:36. It was the first time in NHL history that a team scored three shorthanded goals on the same minor penalty.
But the Hurricanes got some payback in the first meeting this year. Boston entered that clash on Nov. 26 with the league’s top-ranked penalty kill, while Carolina was a woeful 29th out of 30 teams in the NHL on the power play.
That mattered little on that day, as the Hurricanes got power-play goals from Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen for the only scoring in a 3-0 victory. The Bruins had been 15 for 15 on the penalty kill in the previous four games and 24 for 25 in the previous seven, but Carolina converted each of its three chances to score with Wheeler in the box for holding, Andrew Ference sent off for tripping and Milan Lucic called for goalie interference.
The Bruins haven’t allowed more than two power-play goals in any other game this season, and remain near the top of the league standings in sixth place at 84.9 percent. They are also a perfect 5-for-5 so far in their four-game homestand, which concludes with their Monday clash with Carolina. They’ve only allowed one power-play chance in each of their last two games, keeping their penalty killers well rested.
They may need that rest, as they could get a workout from the Hurricanes. Carolina is just 12th in the league on the power play at 18.9 percent, but the Hurricanes have been red-hot of late. They are 7-for-17 over their last four games, including a 4-for-5 showing on Saturday against Tampa Bay. Carolina won that game 6-4, with all but one goal coming on special teams as the Hurricanes also scored shorthanded.
That shorthanded goal by Eric Staal capped a 5-for-5 night on the penalty kill. Carolina is just 24th in the NHL on the PK at 79.2 percent, but they are 8-for-9 over the last three games and denied the Bruins on all four of their power-play chances on Nov. 26.
The Bruins and Hurricanes play twice over the next two days with a home-and-home series, and the one thing to be sure about in these games is that when the numbers aren’t even on the ice, expect some oddly entertaining things to happen.