The last time the Boston Bruins visited the Carolina Hurricanes, they were engaged in a hard-fought playoff series with a spot in the Eastern Conference finals on the line.
It's safe to say there won't be a similar showdown between the teams this spring.
The hobbling Bruins hope Sunday's matchup with last-place Carolina can halt their slide down the standings and help them avoid their first five-game losing streak in more than two years.
The Hurricanes eliminated top-seeded Boston on Scott Walker's goal 18:46 into overtime of Game 7 last May, but they've experienced few positives since then.
Carolina was swept by Pittsburgh in the East finals and quickly faded from contention this season after a 5-17-5 start that included injuries to stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward.
While the Hurricanes (15-28-7) have the NHL's worst record, the Bruins' chances of returning to the postseason have taken a major hit in the last few weeks. Boston is 1-6-1 in its last eight games to fall to the fringes of playoff position.
The Bruins (23-19-8) came away from a three-game homestand without any points, with the NHL's lowest-scoring offense totaling five goals. One more defeat would give them their first five-game losing streak since they dropped six in a row from Dec. 18-29, 2007.
"I'm not going to make excuses here, (we) gotta play better," coach Claude Julien said. "Everybody. (We) have to be better as a team. You play with emotion, you play with attitude, you play with a lot of things and you gotta find that if you want to really turn the corner."
Boston is still in much better shape than the Hurricanes, who have dropped four of their last five after losing 4-2 at Philadelphia on Saturday.
Staal scored his fourth goal in two games since taking over the team captaincy from Rod Brind'Amour, who added a power-play goal, but Carolina was derailed by two second-period goals by the Flyers.
"There were a lot of real good things in our game, just none of them were sustained," coach Paul Maurice said.
Carolina tried to give Ward a rest after he started 17 straight games, but he had to replace backup Manny Legace early in the first period. Legace is dealing with an eye problem related to conjunctivitis.
The Bruins chased Ward with four goals in 31 minutes of a 7-2 home win Oct. 3, gaining a measure of revenge for the playoff upset and winning their sixth straight in the regular season against Carolina.
Boston's Tim Thomas is 5-0-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average in his last five starts against Carolina in the regular season, but backup Tuukka Rask may start Sunday after Thomas faced the Senators on Saturday.
The Bruins will be making their first visit to Raleigh since they extended the 2009 conference semifinals with a 4-2 win in Game 6 on May 12.