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Bruins lucky to escape with 3-2 win over Canes after getting dominated

February 1, 2011

The Canes came at the Bruins fast and hard all night but the B's squeaked out a win to take the season series 3-1. (AP)

Despite a sometimes dominating effort by the Canes, the Bruins escaped from Carolina with a narrow 3-2 victory, taking with them a 3-1 record to finish the season series with Carolina. Daniel Paille scored his first goal of the season, Nathan Horton ended his drought, and Tim Thomas came up huge at times in the victory. The Canes went 1-4 on the power-play while staying out of the box themselves.

The Canes used their legs to grab the game’s first power-play, just 74 seconds into the contest. The Canes have the highest amount of power-play chances in the league coming into the contest and are in the middle of the pack in power-play percentage. Tim Thomas was forced to make two or three saves from his belly and one from Andrew Ference with chaos in front. The Bruins would kill off the remainder of the penalty pretty calmly but the Canes would continue to threaten by using their skates.

The Bruins couldn’t really possess the puck for long periods of time thanks to the Canes forechecking and speed caused them to go back to the box in the middle of the period when Michael Ryder was called for interference on the backcheck. The Canes didn’t threaten the Bruins goal at all as the Bruins penalty-kill looked very strong on their second attempt.

The only semblance of offense from the Bruins came from snap shots from the point and the occasional chance, none of which was better than Daniel Paille‘s breakaway bid that rang post in between penalties. Joni Pitkanen would hit a post of his own later in the period when a blast from the left point deflected off Zdeno Chara and rang pipe.

Things boiled over late in the period when post whistle scrums around the net began to take place until eventually Milan Lucic and Jay Harrison had a bout which didn’t feature many punches. Following the fight the Bruins forwards started finding their ground and got some good shots on net, none better than Blake Wheeler‘s one-timer on Cam Ward which Ward gloved down with a flash. The period ended with another flash of physicality when Steve Kampfer dropped Jeff Skinner when Skinner tried to cherry-pick a last second breakaway. This led to the obligatory scrum to end the period.

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The first period started in similar fashion to the first period, with Carolina outskating the Bruins and creating more chances but the Bruins came away with an early goal when Daniel Paille tipped home a Zdeno Chara shot for his first goal of the season. The fourth line did a good job of holding the puck in long enough for Chara to creep up into the offensive zone and hammer a one-timer from the point in stride. The puck went through traffic and was tipped home by Paille as Paille moved across the crease for the first goal of the game.

Blake Wheeler would go to the box shortly after, their third penalty of the game, when he skied the puck over the glass for a delay of game. The Canes best bid came towards the end when Brandon Sutter got a 2-on-1 sneakaway bid but ran out of room. Aside from the late bid, the Bruins penalty-kill remained their strongest attribute.

After some chaotic offensive chances the Bruins defense wilted under a Carolina rush when Jamie McBain scored on a rebound goal. The Canes fired back with some crisp outlet passes, going the length of the ice in a flash and after Thomas made a first save on Sergei Samsonov but couldn’t control the rebound and it bounced right to McBain who was waiting at the edge of the crease. Samsonov’s serpentine moves at the top of the zone opened up the defense enough for McBain to find an empty lane to the crease.

Carolina picked up some momentum after that goal, continuing to look like the better team but they never got continuous pressure on Thomas despite owning the puck for much of the period. Despite being dominated in the second period the Bruins took a 1-1 tie to the second intermission while looking to win the season series against the Canes.

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Despite another slow start to the period the Bruins stole the first goal of the period when Nathan Horton ended his scoring drought with a wrist shot goal out front. Thomas made a good save at the other end and the Bruins raced up the ice. The play broke down but Horton hung around the weak side and fisted a puck in past Ward for the go-ahead.

Just 1:12 later the Bruins would score again when Patrice Bergeron hammered a turnaround shot on net in an effort to get the puck in deep. Brad Marchand was camping out front and set a good screen despite his diminutive size. Bergeron’s shot came off of his back foot but had enough mustard on it to beat Ward.

The Bruins would give the Canes a chance to get back into the game when they took their fourth penalty of the game just a few minutes later when Marchand went to the box. The penalty-kill finally wilted on their fourth go-around when Joe Corvo blasted a shot into traffic and the puck, that was going wide, deflected in off a body to cut the lead in half. The power-play hadn’t been particularly good beforehand but the Carolina defense was given too much room to shoot and it came back to bit the Bruins.

Thomas was called upon to save the lead on a few occasions, making a huge save on Jiri Tlusty, with a little help from the post, on a 2-on-1 in the second half of third period, at a critical time. Carolina continued to crank up the pressure and the Bruins were often scrambling to get the puck out of their zone and all semblance of offense seemed to be out the door in the crucial waning moments. Thomas continued to come up huge around the three minute mark when he made a diving save, save while down, and then a kick save all in about six seconds to keep his team on top.

The Canes had to pull their goaltender around the 1:30 mark and Carolina would take a timeout with 1:07 left, mostly to get Eric Staal and the rest of the best Canes a much needed breather after a near two-minute shift. After the Canes handled and peppered in the Bruins zone for much of the final minute, Mark Recchi was able to clear and ice with two seconds left and after Bergeron won it back the Bruins secured the win, taking the season series 3-1.

The Bruins will next play the Stars on Wednesday.

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