Patriots-Panthers wasn’t the only sporting event pitting a Boston team against a Carolina team on Monday night. Granted, Bruins-Hurricanes was not a nationally televised game, and had a fraction of the viewers, but the B’s took care of business with a 4-1 victory at PNC Arena vs. the Hurricanes. It was a nice bounce-back road win after Boston (13-6-1) fell apart in a 4-2 loss in Ottawa on Friday.
Like the Senators, the Hurricanes (8-9-4) fell behind 2-0 in the first period but scored a late goal to cut it to 2-1 heading into the first intermission. The difference this time was that the Bruins hung on long enough and scored a clutch goal in the third period before an empty-netter by Milan Lucic settled it.
The B’s haven’t been drawing many penalties lately but they took advantage of their first power play tonight as Reilly Smith finished off pinpoint passing from Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. Less than eight minutes later, Soderberg had his second career multi-point game as he tipped Dennis Seidenberg’s shot from the point. Like his team, Tuukka Rask (23 saves) had a better showing than Friday although the one goal he allowed was bizarre. Tuomo Ruutu’s redirection was like the hockey equivalent of a knuckleball, even worse it came with five seconds left in the frame.
Cam Ward (26 saves) was playing his first game since Oct. 24 and his rust showed in the third period. He was slightly jostled out of position which allowed Johnny Boychuk to slam home his first goal in 62 regular season games. Ward wanted a penalty on Boston but two of his own teammates where in the middle of the action.
It is a very busy week for the B’s: this was the start of three games in four nights and four in six days. The Bruins visit the Rangers (10-10-0) Tuesday night (7:30, NBCSN) at Madison Square Garden and it’ll be the first time they’ve met since Boston beat them in the second round of the playoffs last spring (in five games).
What they'll be saying: It was a surprise to see Rask in the net this evening in the sense that the Rangers are a better team than the Hurricanes plus Chad Johnson had played well last week in his spot start vs. Columbus last Thursday. It’ll be interesting to see if Claude Julien goes back to Rask on Tuesday in New York since Boston heads home to face St. Louis-one of the better teams in the NHL-on Thursday. He has to be careful not to wear out Rask since this is an 82-game regular season, not 48 like last season. The other notable lineup move for the Bruins was that Jordan Caron was out of the press box for the first time in 10 games while Shawn Thornton took a seat for the first time this season. With few physical players on Carolina, it made sense to give Thornton the night off. It was more important for Caron to get some ice time after he had been out for so long. This wasn’t anything against Thornton’s performance, I’m pretty sure he’ll back in action on Tuesday vs. New York-a more physical team. Boston’s penalty kill is up to 32-for-32 after four more successful penalty kills, including a 5-on-3 that lasted 1:03 for Carolina. They were ranked fourth coming into the game, if they keep this up they will soon be sporting the No. 1 penalty kill unit in the NHL which would overjoy Julien. You can see how much more comfortable Soderberg is this season, likewise his line (the 3rd) had arguably their best game of the season with tons of offensive zone time.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate