RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A two-week break for the Winter Olympics
did nothing to change the Carolina Hurricanes' third-period magic.
Aaron Ward scored two goals -- including the go-ahead score late
in the third -- to help the Hurricanes rally for a 4-3 victory over
the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, giving Carolina its seventh
win when trailing entering the final period.
Ray Whitney and Oleg Tverdovsky added goals for the Hurricanes,
who have won all three games with Boston this season by 4-3 scores.
Carolina earned its 40th win, marking only the third such season
in franchise history. The Hurricanes have already surpassed their
previous high of 38 wins since moving from Hartford before the
Carolina, which leads the Eastern Conference with 84 points and
is only a point behind Detroit from the overall lead, improved to
25-5-1 at home to move to within one win of a franchise record.
Detroit beat Anaheim 2-0 on Wednesday night.
All of it came thanks to another strong third period, rallying
from a 3-2 deficit on scores from Whitney and Ward, a defenseman
who matched his career best with two goals. Carolina's seven wins
when trailing after two periods are tied for second-best in the
NHL, and the Hurricanes have outscored opponents 81-54 in the final
period this season.
"It's our identity," Ward said. "We're a well-conditioned
team, a team that doesn't quit on our ideals. We our there doing
the same things. Teams start to fall apart when they start doing
individual things on the ice, and we maintained a solid disciplined
team performance out there."
"The result wasn't what we wanted it to be, but the effort
pretty much was," said Boston goalie Tim Thomas, who finished with
25 saves. "Obviously, we were just a little off. They're a good
team, but we had the lead. We should have won the game."
After Whitney tied it at 3 early in the third, Niklas Nordgren
corralled the puck along the boards on the left side and sent a
pass in front of the crease. The pass was apparently was for
Whitney, with Ward skating in on the right side expecting a rebound
But the puck was "sitting perfectly," said Ward, who fired a
shot past Thomas for the 4-3 lead with 4:24 left.
Ward also scored early in the second period, taking a pass from
Rod Brind'Amour and beating Thomas from outside the right circle
for a 2-1 lead.
The biggest problem for Carolina was its second-period
performance. The Bruins scored two goals in 23 seconds -- both
coming off turnovers -- to push ahead midway through the period.
Still, coach Peter Laviolette wasn't going to complain with his
team's performance coming out of the break.
"I would hope we come out the way we did tonight, with a sense
of urgency and put the foot on the gas and be the best team in the
league," Laviolette said.
Boston tied it at 2 when Tanabe scored while trailing on a
2-on-1 push after Carolina turned it over in the offensive zone.
Then, after a Carolina turnover in its own end after the faceoff,
Samsonov faked to draw goalie Cam Ward out then pushed the puck
behind him on the left side at 11:53 of the period.
Carolina tied it on Whitney's power-play goal. He took a
between-the-legs drop pass from Cory Stillman and beat Thomas from
between the circles 3½ minutes into the third.
Axelsson was injured when he fell awkwardly on a hit by
Aaron Ward along the boards. He clutched at his left knee before
limping off the ice and into the tunnel. ... The game marked a
homecoming of sorts for Tanabe, who was Carolina's first-round
draft pick in 1999 and spent four seasons with the team before
being traded in 2003. ... Four players -- Carolina's Stillman and
Erik Cole, and Boston's Brad Boyes and Glen Murray -- each tallied
assists to push their point streaks to five games. ... Carolina now
has 219 goals on the season, surpassing the previous Carolina high
of 217 set most recently in 2001-02.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: PNC Arena Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Referees: Blaine Angus, Kelly Sutherland Linesmen: Michel Cormier, Pat Dapuzzo
Attendance: 17,018 (90.9% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Marco Sturm (21)
Assists: Brad Boyes, Hal Gill
Oleg Tverdovsky (3)
Assists: Eric Staal, Erik Cole
Aaron Ward (5)
Assist: Rod Brind'Amour
David Tanabe (3)
Assists: P.J. Axelsson, Travis Green
Sergei Samsonov (18)
Assists: Glen Murray, Wayne Primeau
Ray Whitney (10)
(Power Play) Assists: Cory Stillman, Cam Ward