BOSTON — The Boston Bruins found a cure for their offensive woes: shaky Carolina goaltending.
Boston cruised to a 5-0 lead and emerged with a 6-2 victory over the Hurricanes on Monday night.
The Bruins, moving within a point of the idle Montreal Canadiens for the Northeast Division lead, hit a season high in goals while running their recent home record to 8-0-1.
But they had help.
“We’ve had those go against us lately, so it’s good to have them go on your side; that’s part of the game,” Boston coach Claude Julien said after six Bruins notched multiple-point games in the win. “Some nights you get the bounces going your way, and some other nights you don’t.”
With Cam Ward gone due to a knee injury, the ‘Canes have been searching for a goaltending answer. Dan Ellis and Justin Peters are playing as the team slowly drops out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
On Monday, the Bruins, who came in with eight goals in the past five games and two in the previous two, cashed in on sloppy play by both, as well as by the Carolina defense.
Peters started and was gone after two bad goals, and Ellis came on and wasn’t much better. The Bruins, playing with three of their four lines altered, had five goals on their first 17 shots.
Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg delivered a career-high three assists (tying his career best for points), Brad Marchand scored his 15th and 16th goals of the season, Rich Peverley (No. 5) and Andrew Ference (No. 3) added a goal and an assist apiece, and newcomer Jaromir Jagr and Gregory Campbell both posted two assists.
Jordan Caron scored his first goal of the season for the Bruins.
“As of late, we haven’t scored a whole lot of goals in our games,” Julien said. “It’s nice to be able to come in the room after a game and know we had a good offensive game, so we’re happy about that.”
The Bruins can’t be thrilled with their defensive effort. In fact, it was goalie Tuukka Rask who sent the game in Boston’s direction, flirting with his second shutout in the last three games (and he was outstanding in a 2-1 loss in Montreal on Saturday night).
On Monday, he stopped all 18 shots in the first period, allowing his buddies to cash in on the non-goaltending/non-defense at the other end. Rask finished with 40 saves.
Julien liked the offensive output but remains optimistic his team can turn it up defensively.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes, losing their fifth straight, drifted further toward not qualifying for the playoffs.
“We’re battling,” center Jeff Skinner said. “I don’t know. I don’t know if we can find a way to get a win here. The effort was there; it’s just the execution. The results weren’t there.”
The points for Jagr, who has a goal and two assists in three games with his new team and 10 points in his last 10 games overall, gave the future Hall of Famer 105 points in 73 career games against the Hurricanes. Even at 41, he can be magic with the puck.
The Hurricanes thought they had broken Rask’s shutout with 10:11 left in the game, but Eric Staal kicked the puck in, and it was waved off on review. However, 14 seconds later, Patrick Dwyer (No. 7) scored and the shutout was gone. Then, 45 seconds after that, Drayson Bowman (No. 3) stuffed one home to make it 5-2.
“Any time you score, it helps your confidence,” Bowman said. “But it was in a 6-2 loss, so it would be nice to get one in a win.”
Nathan Horton (No. 13, five in the last seven games) tipped home a shot-pass from Dougie Hamilton with 3:04 left to close the scoring.
The Hurricanes took the game’s first seven shots, and the Bruins were being completely outplayed in the first period when Peverley broke down the right wing and fired a shot that was repelled by Peters. The puck went behind the net, and Peverley slipped past the defense, got the puck and scored on a wraparound at 3:51 of the opening period.
It was Peverley’s first goal in his past 11 games, and it came on the night he was dropped to the fourth line.
The rout was on.
NOTES: Tyler Seguin’s shift to center after the injury to Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron was short-lived. Center Chris Kelly returned Monday after missing 14 games with a broken leg, and Seguin was back on the wing and moved down to the third line. “I can’t say I was shocked it got changed,” Seguin said. “We’re mixing things up, and I’ve played the third line before my first year, but not so much last year.” … Julien said there was no update on Bergeron, out with his fourth concussion. … The Hurricanes have lost seven straight at home, falling to 7-12-0 on home ice. They play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, while the Bruins visit the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. … Campbell, Ference and Peverley all recorded their first multiple-point games of the season.
Maple Leafs 4, Rangers 3: Phil Kessel scored twice, including the go-ahead goal at 9:39 of the third period, as the Toronto Maple Leafs withstood a New York Rangers comeback to earn a 4-3 victory Monday at Air Canada Centre.
James van Riemsdyk and Ryan O’Byrne also scored for Toronto with Kessel adding an assist.
Rick Nash scored twice for the Rangers and Derek Stepan scored the other NewYork goal.
New York scored twice in the third period to tie the game 3-3 after trailing 3-1 after two periods.
But Kessel came through with his 12th goal of the season.
The Maple Leafs (22-13-4) moved six points ahead of the Rangers (19-16-4) in the playoff race with the victory that tied the season series 1-1. The teams meet again Wednesday in New York.
The Leafs snapped a string of 10 consecutive games in which Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had not allowed more than two goals. He stopped 24 of 28 shots on Monday, while Toronto goaltender James Reimer stopped 31 of 34 shots.
The Rangers hit a goal post twice in the early going of the first period, but the Maple Leafs scored first when van Riemsdyk jammed the puck past Lundqvist on his third try at 11:03. It was his 16th goal of the season.
Defenseman John-Michael Liles set up the chance when he passed the puck in front from the corner. The goal came about 20 seconds after Dan Girardi rang a 39-footer off the post behind Reimer for the Rangers.
The Leafs had the first good chance of the second period when Lundqvist stopped Liles slapshot from 62 feet and Kessel put the rebound wide.
That came after each team had taken turns bottling the other up in their defensive zone without accomplishing much.
The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead at 11:28 of the second on a 26-foot shot by O’Byrne after he took a cross-ice pass from the right wing from Nazem Kadri. It was O’Byrne’s second goal of the season and his first with the Leafs.
The Rangers replied at 15:05 on Nash’s 16th goal of the season. He swooped in from the left wing after taking a pass from Stepan and stuffed the puck into the goal from short range. A video review confirmed that it was not kicked in.
The Maple Leafs regained their two-goal lead on Kessel’s power play goal at 19:18 with assists to Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson. Ryan Callahan was off for holding. The 42-foot wrist shot gave Kessel his 11th goal of the season.
After the Leafs had the better of play in the first two minutes of the third period, Nash scored again on a clever move at 2:50. He dashed in from the right wing, cut in front of the goal and flicked the puck over Reimer from seven feet away. Soon after Reimer made a flopping save on Ryan Clowe’s shot from close in.
The Rangers tied it on Stepan’s 14th goal at nine minutes on an unassisted solo effort from the left wing.
But Kessel put Toronto ahead 39 seconds later on an eight-foot wrist shot on his own rebound.