Ward outduels Thomas as Staal, Hurricanes nip Bruins

BOSTON (AP) -- Carolina goalie Cam Ward paused to laugh playfully at the question after he posted his third shutout of the season.

"Another one?" he said with a smile. "I feel very good. The guys played a great game in front of me."

Ward stopped 19 shots in his return to the starting lineup after backing up the past two games, Eric Staal scored the only goal and the Hurricanes beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 on Tuesday night.

For a team that's been giving up goals fairly easily this season, it was easy for Ward to forget how many he's had so far.

Ward, who entered with a 2.84 goals-against average, had lost three of his last four starts, allowing at least four goals in each of the losses.

"It's definitely been a little tough for me lately," he said. "That said, it's a long season and I can learn from my mistakes."

The Hurricanes entered the game with the NHL's third-most goals allowed, but coach Peter Laviolette said they were concentrating on team defense a bit more.

"When you're giving up goals and you're losing because of it, it's something you look at," Laviolette said. "There's a fine line between playing too much defensive and giving up offense."

The win was just the third in eight games for Carolina, which played its second straight 1-0 game after losing in St. Louis on Saturday. It was the Hurricanes' first 1-0 victory of the season.

Tim Thomas made 27 saves for Boston. It was the Bruins' first home shutout since Colorado beat them 2-0 last March.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was as upset after this loss as any this season.

"Lack of effort," he said. "Simple as that. When you don't work, you don't win."

Boston, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, closes a five-game homestand against Montreal on Thursday.

Staal's goal came with 1:40 left in the second period. He collected the puck near the back boards, circled out front and fired a wrister between Thomas' pads from the bottom of the right circle.

"I had a few options and just thought I throw it at the net, and it went through his legs," Staal said.

The Bruins pulled Thomas with 64 seconds left, and they had a power play for the final 17.3 seconds after Niclas Wallin was whistled for tripping.

A splendid save by Thomas kept the game scoreless in the opening period. Winger Erik Cole fired a shot from the right circle that Staal, positioned at the top of the crease, redirected on net, but Thomas flashed his right pad and reached back with his stick to slide the puck out just before it crossed the goal line with a little under four minutes left.

"Timmy did his part, we just didn't get that tying goal," Boston left winger Peter Schaefer said.

Carolina just missed on another chance early in the second when center Chad LaRose hit the crossbar with a shot from the right circle after he broke in alone.

Game notes
Carolina claimed right winger Sergei Samsonov on re-entry waivers from Chicago and assigned Brandon Nolan to their AHL affiliate earlier Tuesday. Samsonov, originally drafted by the Bruins, received a nice hand when he was announced in the starting lineup. ... Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara was elected by fan balloting to the Eastern Conference's All-Star team. It will be his third appearance, first as a starter. ... Boston defenseman Aaron Ward, sidelined with a broken left foot, said he feels like he'll be ready for Thursday's game against Montreal. ... Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts missed his 10th straight game with post-concussion syndrome. ... Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley, who has played the second-most games by an active defenseman at 1,423, was a late scratch because of an illness, and left winger Ray Whitney was also scratched because he was sick.