RALEIGH, N.C. — Tim Thomas knew the Boston Bruins wouldn’t have it nearly as easy this time against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Not until he peeked at the shot counter did he realize just how hard he was working to beat them again.
Thomas made a season-high 43 saves to lead the Bruins past Carolina 3-2 Tuesday night.
“When they started to add up in the second, I was aware, because physically, I could feel it,” said Thomas, who won his fourth straight start and a matchup of All-Star goalies. “I was like, ‘Whoa, this is a lot of shots.’”
Milan Lucic scored the go-ahead goal with 8:11 left. Brad Marchand scored earlier in the third period, Johnny Boychuk added his first goal of the season and Mark Recchi had two assists.
They helped the Northeast Division-leading Bruins win for the fifth time in six games and sweep a home-and-home against Carolina after routing the Hurricanes 7-0 a day earlier.
Jussi Jokinen and Chad LaRose scored, while Cam Ward made 25 saves for the Hurricanes, who have lost three of four since they earned points in eight straight games.
“I still like this team,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. “I think they’re learning their lessons as they go.”
Lucic’s winner came with 53 seconds left on an elbowing minor to the 5-foot-10 LaRose, who was called for elbowing the league’s tallest player, 6-9 Zdeno Chara. On the decisive play, Recchi skated behind the end line and found an uncovered Lucic in front of the goal.
Recchi “did a great job. He came down wide with a lot of speed, and he was able to sell like he was going around the net,” Lucic said. “It was kind of like the parting of the sea for me, right there in front of the net.”
For the Bruins, goals were much tougher to come by than they were a day earlier during the rout in Boston in which Zdeno Chara scored three times and Thomas had yet another shutout.
“I knew they would have a pushback,” Thomas said. “I thought we would handle it better than we did. But in the long run, we handled it well, because we found a way to win. But we could have made it a little easier on ourselves.”
Generating shots wasn’t a problem for much of the night for the Hurricanes, who matched a season high with 19 in the first period and then did it again in the second. By the midpoint of the second period, Carolina’s shot total reached well into the 30s — and, yes, the Bruins’ goalie noticed.
“That’s when I was like, we need to start taking it to the other end if we’re going to win this game,” Thomas said. “We can’t keep up this type of pace in our zone.”
And yet he refused to allow the Hurricanes to put the puck past him with any frequency.
“We didn’t get the results that we wanted, but our compete level was there and we were all over them in the second period and couldn’t find a way to get the puck to the back of the net,” captain Eric Staal said.
Jokinen tied it at 1 with about 3½ minutes left in the first, powering it in from close range on the power play, and LaRose made it 2-2 with 10:41 left — 2½ minutes before Lucic’s goal.
The Bruins, who scored three first-period goals in their blowout win a day earlier, appeared headed for a similar start when they scored just over 2 minutes in.
After Jokinen was sent off for tripping 17 seconds in, Boychuk ripped a slap shot from the blue line that got past Ward. But that was it for Boston until Marchand backhanded in a rebound to put the Bruins up 2-1 with 16:05 left.
“There’s going to be at least two really, really good goaltenders at the All-Star game,” Maurice said.
Notes: Thomas is 7-0-3 in his last 10 starts. … The Bruins improved to 18-1-3 when scoring first. … Jokinen has five goals in five games since missing six with a lower body injury.
Flyers 3, Capitals 2
PHILADELPHIA — Andrej Meszaros scored 1:07 into overtime to bail out the Flyers after they blew a third period lead and give Philadelphia a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
Meszaros ended OT with a wrist shot just outside the slot that beat Semyon Varlamov.
The winner came after the Flyers blew a 2-0 lead in the third. Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux each scored for the Flyers.
Mike Knuble and Alex Ovechkin scored in the third period to rally the Capitals.
The Flyers won only hours after they gave general manager Paul Holmgren a three-year contract extension. Holmgren has made one shrewd move after another the last five years to help put the Flyers atop the Eastern Conference.
The road-weary Flyers had played only one game in 28 days and that was on Jan. 8. The Flyers even practiced at the outdoor rink at Central Park a day before they played the Rangers.
They returned home with 63 points and the top spot in the East. They can build on that lead at home — Tuesday marked the start of eight of 10 games in Philadelphia, including four of five that lead into the All-Star break.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is a co-coach of one of the All-Star teams — and Giroux is joining him.
The Flyers showed why they’re the best in the East behind Sergei Bobrovsky in net. He stopped 12 shots over the first two periods and was in control against Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps.
Bobrovsky was cruising toward his first career shutout. He made two sweet stops on Jason Chimera — a glove save of a 2-on-1 play in the third a highlight.
All it took was 40 seconds for the lead to collapse.
Knuble, a former Flyers playoff star, scored his 11th goal to make it 2-1. Ovechkin quickly followed with his 16th goal, burning an out-of-position Bobrovsky for an easy look into the net.
The play was reviewed to see if Ovechkin knocked the puck in with his glove, but the goal stood.
Lead wasted. Just not the game.
Meszros scored only his second goal of the season to stun the Caps and keep the Flyers rolling.
They all rewarded Holmgren — the architect of a team that fell two wins shy of winning the Stanley Cup last season.
Carter wasted little time giving the fans something to cheer for when he scored his 20th goal on a wraparound past Neuvirth only 1:31 into the game.
Carter fed Giroux in the slot and he knocked in his own rebound to make it 2-0 with 6:22 left in the second period.
Notes: The Flyers are 3-0 this season vs. the Capitals. … Knuble played four years with the Flyers and played in 24 playoff games. … Holmgren had one more year left on his contract.
Penguins 4, Red Wings 1
PITTSBURGH — Chris Conner scored on Pittsburgh’s first successful penalty shot in nearly four years, Jordan Staal added his third goal in three games and the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins beat the injury-thinned Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Two of the NHL’s best teams met for only the third time since they faced each other in the Stanley Cup finals in 2008 and 2009 — they split a pair of games last season — but a number of top names were missing.
Crosby, the NHL’s leading scorer, sat out a sixth consecutive game with a concussion. The Red Wings were without goalies Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood, forwards Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary and defenseman Brad Stuart.
The Red Wings took 18 of a possible 26 points in their first 13 games after Datsyuk started their run of injuries by breaking his right hand, but Detroit’s lack of depth showed up as Pittsburgh won its third in a row. The Penguins were 0-1-2 in their first three games without Crosby, who might not return until after the Jan. 30 All-Star game.
Crosby said earlier in the day he is getting better, but still had headaches and is uncertain when he will return. He has not skated since being driven headfirst into the boards by the Lightning’s Victor Hedman on Jan. 5.
Goalie Joey MacDonald, playing in only his fifth game this season, made an early mistake that led to the Staal goal 3:02 into the game.
MacDonald took too long to play the puck behind the net, allowing Tyler Kennedy to steal a short pass intended for Jonathan Ericsson and feed it to an undefended Staal at the side of the net. Staal, who missed the first half of the season with an infected foot and broken hand, has three goals and six points in three games.
Conner, awarded a penalty shot after being hooked by Kris Draper as he broke in on MacDonald, went from his forehand to his backhand before tucking a shot between the goalie’s pads. The Penguins had been 0 for 12 on penalty shots since Jarkko Ruutu scored on Jan. 20, 2007 against Toronto with nearly the same move.
Given a 2-0 lead, Penguins All-Star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made the lead stand up by making 36 saves. Fleury, 21-11-2 despite winning only once in his first seven starts, has 80 saves in his last two starts. He stopped 44 shots in a 3-2 victory over Boston on Saturday.
Johan Franzen’s 20th goal got Detroit to within 2-1 at 17:28 of the second. Chris Kunitz needed only 30 seconds to restore Pittsburgh’s two-goal lead, deflecting Niklas Kronwall’s up-ice pass to Evgeni Malkin before scoring off a rebound of Pascal Dupuis’ backhander.
Matt Cooke scored into an empty net with 1:19 remaining.
Notes: Each team now has 62 points. Vancouver leads the league with 64. … MacDonald is 1-4-1 against Pittsburgh. … Penguins F Max Talbot, who scored both goals for Pittsburgh in a 2-1 win in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in Detroit two seasons ago, doesn’t gave a goal in 21 games. … Detroit is 14-7-2 on the road. … Malkin’s assist on Kunitz’s goal was his third point in Pittsburgh’s six games without Crosby, with no goals. … Penguins F Mark Letestu signed a two-year contract extension that runs through 2012-13 and averages $625,000 per season.