In battle of NHL’s top two teams, Hurricanes take down suddenly reeling Bruins, 4-1
Carolina Hurricanes fans have been known to boo certain visiting teams when they take the ice at PNC Arena — a customary greeting.
Those boos were considerably louder Sunday.
The Boston Bruins were in town. It was a matchup of the two best teams in the NHL, the Bruins leading the Atlantic Division and the Canes the Metropolitan.
The Canes were ready from the jump, the best team this day, taking a 4-1 victory.
Sebastian Aho extended his goal streak to four games, Jordan Staal scored shorthanded and Paul Stastny on the power play. Seth Jarvis added a goal at even strength for the Canes.
The Bruins entered the game ranked fourth on the power play, but the Canes’ penalty killing was aggressive and on point. Boston was 0-for-6 on the power play, the last late in regulation when the Bruins pulled goalie Linus Ullmark for a 6-on-4 advantage.
Staal took care of that one, carrying the puck down the ice with David Pastrnak helpless to stop him from scoring into the empty net.
Goalie Frederik Andersen earned his 10th win of the season and fifth in a row for the Canes (32-9-8) with 24 saves.
For the Bruins, it was their first visit back to Raleigh since Game 7 of their intense, give-no-quarter Stanley Cup playoff series last season. The Canes won 3-2 to end that first-round series, in what some believed might be the last hurrah for such Boston staples as Patrice Bergeron or possibly Brad Marchand, who had offseason hip surgery.
But here they were Sunday, rolling in 38-6-5 for the season and 81 points banked, the best in the league.
“It’s getting old, to be honest with you,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour joked before the game, “I’m ready for them to move on, but they’re not going away.”
There was one contrast in Sunday’s game. The Canes had a last-gasp comeback to beat the San Jose Sharks in their last game at PNC Arena — Martin Necas with a tying goal late in regulation, then the winner in overtime — while the Bruins let one slip away.
Playing Saturday at Florida, the Bruins took the lead in the final minute, then had the Panthers tie it in the final seconds with an extra attacker and then win quickly in overtime.
Boston could only pack up and head to Raleigh for the fourth game of a five-game road trip, with its first two-game losing streak of the season.
Boston entered Sunday’s game ranked fourth in the NHL on the power play and the leader in penalty killing, but the Canes were better in both.
Aho’s shorthanded goal came when he knocked the puck away from David Pastrnak near the Carolina blue line and was off on a breakaway. Aho beat Ullmark with a forehand low to the blocker side for his 21st of the season and a 1-0 lead 10:52 into the first – Aho’s 14th point in the past 10 games.
The Canes then struck on the power play in the second, but not until after Marchand got into a push-and-shove with Marchand that livened up the arena again.
Stastny won the faceoff in the Boston zone, then went to the front of the net and chipped a rebound past Ullmark after a Martin Necas shot at 12:05 of the period.
Jarvis’ goal came at even strength in the third, the winger using his quickness to swat the puck away from defenseman Brando Carlo and speed in to beat Ullmark with a backhander.
The Bruins quickly answered the Jarvis goal – after Aho had his stick knocked away in the Canes zone. With a lot of traffic in front of Andersen, Pavel Zacha scored his 10th.
Bruins coach Jim Montgomery reunited Pastrnak with Bergeron and Marchand on the top line during the game, moving Taylor Hall to David Krejci’s line. Much like the playoffs, Brind’Amour countered by matching Jordan Staal’s line against Bergeron’s.
As usual at PNC Arena, Marchand was booed every time he touched the puck. As usual, a number of Bruins fans found their way into the building and made some noise.