RALEIGH, N.C. - There's a reason the Carolina Hurricanes call Jussi
Jokinen's line the "Finnish line." Because of him, the Boston Bruins
are nearly finished.
Jokinen scored the go-ahead goal for the second
straight game and added two assists, and the Hurricanes pushed the
top-seeded Bruins to the brink of elimination by pulling away late for
a 4-1 victory Friday night. Eric Staal scored two goals to break the
club career playoff scoring record, and Sergei Samsonov added a goal
for the Hurricanes. They lead the Eastern Conference semifinal series
Game 5 is Sunday night in Boston.
"We're going to keep getting them from (Jokinen) the
rest of the way, too," Staal said. "It's still early. He's played
phenomenal. He's really finding those areas and scoring key goals.
"You always have those guys in the playoffs, and he seems to be having that confidence."
Marc Savard scored for the Bruins, who have lost
three straight since sweeping Montreal in the first round and winning
the opener against Carolina.
"I think our team has probably picked the worst time
of the year to play their worst hockey," coach Claude Julien said.
"When you look at the whole team right now, there isn't anybody that
has played up to their potential.
"You can see the frustration on the players right
now, and it's certainly getting worse. This is something that has to be
resolved before next game, and we don't have much time to do that."
If history is any guide, the Hurricanes can start making travel plans for either Pittsburgh or Washington.
They've taken 3-1 series leads twice before in
franchise history and have advanced both times. Meanwhile, the Bruins
haven't won any of the 21 series in which they've faced such a deficit.
"We've got to be realistic. In being realistic,
you've got to know that you can do it," goalie Tim Thomas said. "We can
win three games in a row. How many times in the season did we do it?
"We still have a chance."
Jokinen delivered another late goal for Carolina -
and this time, he left enough time to generate a couple of goals for
his teammates, too.
The Finn capped a third-period burst that started
when Anton Babchuk unloaded a slap shot from the left point. Rod
Brind'Amour took a whack at it near the left post, and Jokinen swept it
past Thomas and into an open net to make it 2-1.
The Hurricanes have become used to go-ahead goals from Jokinen, who won Game 3 with an overtime tap-in two nights earlier.
In the series before that, he won Game 4 against New
Jersey with an off-the-skate score with 0.2 seconds remaining, then
scored to start Carolina's two-goals-in-80-seconds rally that beat the
Devils in Game 7.
"It's been quite a ride the last three months and
especially in the playoffs," Jokinen said. "But I'm not satisfied with
it and how things are right now. ... We still have a long way to go."
Jokinen set up Samsonov for a backhander that made
it a two-goal game with 5:29 left, and had one of the assists on
Staal's second goal 70 seconds later.
Staal broke past several defenders and beat Thomas
with a snap shot for his 40th career point in the playoffs, breaking
the mark of 39 set by current associate head coach Ron Francis.
"Having a guy like Ronnie Francis on your staff, that's where it really makes a difference," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.
"(Francis) can go to him and say, 'Listen, you take
care of these other things, and your numbers are going to be there and
we're going to win more.' He started to do that, and since that time,
(Staal has) just been fantastic."
Cam Ward made 20 saves in improving his career playoff record to 22-12.
Thomas finished with 27 saves for the Bruins, who
were out to prove they still had plenty of fight left in them after
losing their previous two. David Krejci seemed to personify that,
pancaking Jokinen in front of Thomas just 3 1/2 minutes in.
That collision drew a roughing minor that ultimately backfired on the Bruins.
Moments after Ward stuffed P.J. Axelsson on a
breakaway, Staal snapped a shot on net - Carolina's first of the night
- from the right circle, and it trickled past Thomas.