Five players scored goals Tuesday night for the Bruins, who got 30 saves from Tuukka Rask to hold on to eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Boston was just 1-3-1 in its previous five games, losing its grip on a playoff spot. The players got together before Tuesday's game and talked about how important it was to close out the road swing with a victory and to create momentum for the final stretch of the regular season.
"We needed a huge win tonight, I think we all knew that," said Mark Recchi, one of four Bruins players with a goal and an assist. "We stayed with it; we played the right way. We were a desperate hockey club tonight. We do that for 13 more games, we'll control our own destiny and get in the playoffs."
Recchi's goal, 45 seconds into the third period, turned out to be the game-winner. He skated in 2-on-1, saw a lane to shoot and fired off the glove of Manny Legace and into the net for a 3-1 lead.
Recchi's goal, the 560th of his career, tied him with Guy Lafleur for 22nd on the NHL's all-time list.
"That third goal was huge for us," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We played until the end."
Erik Cole scored twice for the Hurricanes, who have lost back-to-back home games to fall 10 points behind the Bruins in the Eastern Conference. His second score made it 3-2, and the Hurricanes followed with a flurry of shots that were turned away by Rask.
"Tuukka was good for us again tonight," Julien said. "He made some timely saves and had some tough shots, a lot of traffic in front of him, and he stood tall."
"I thought we handled the third period really, really well," Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara said. "We never changed our system. Every line really contributed in some way."
Boston took a 1-0 lead 37 seconds in on a redirected shot by Patrice Bergeron. Boston improved to 17-3-4 when leading after one period, and Carolina fell to 2-17-6 when trailing after one. Johnny Boychuk added a second period goal under the pads of Legace.
Cole's goals, his first since scoring twice Dec. 5, cut the lead to 2-1 and then 3-2, but the other Hurricanes were unable to crack the scoring column.
"Rask had some pretty good saves on the chances that we did get," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "Just that puck movement from the back end to the forwards is such a critical piece against a hard forechecking team."
Bergeron left the ice late in the game with an injury after taking a puck off his leg, but Julien said the injury was not deemed serious. "The prognosis is it's a bruise," he said. Marc Savard missed his fifth consecutive game for Boston with a concussion. Paul Maurice coached his 800th game for the Hurricanes' franchise. Carolina D Joni Pitkanen played his 400th NHL game. Carolina's Jamie McBain assisted on Cole's first goal, giving McBain a point in his first NHL game.
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Arena: PNC Arena Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Referees: Stephane Auger, Tom Kowal Linesmen: Andy McElman, Pierre Racicot
Attendance: 15,832 (84.5% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Patrice Bergeron (16)
Assists: Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Recchi
Johnny Boychuk (4)
Assists: Matt Hunwick, Michael Ryder
Erik Cole (7)
(Power Play) Assists: Jamie McBain, Sergei Samsonov
Mark Recchi (15)
Assist: David Krejci
Erik Cole (8)
Assists: Brandon Sutter, Tuomo Ruutu