RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes outlasted the Boston Bruins and earned a 2-1 shootout win in front of a boisterous crowd of 17,212 on hand at PNC Arena on Sunday.
After 65 minutes of end-to-end play during which winning netminder Anton Khudobin and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask kept both teams’ shooters at bay, it was Hurricanes captain Eric Staal who made the difference.
Patrick Dwyer scored Carolina’s lone goal in regulation while Patrice Bergeron did the same for Boston, as the Hurricanes outshot the Bruins 36-20.
Khudobin’s 19-save performance earned him his second win of the season, and helped Carolina to win its second game in a row.
Coming into the game on a four-game point streak with three goals and an assist, Staal kept his hot shooting hands going by scoring the deciding shootout goal.
Even though awarded the fireman’s helmet for the game, Staal was quick to praise his netminder who earned First Star honors.
“Dober was sharp – real good,” Staal said.
“Good effort to finish it in the shootout.”
Carolina took advantage of the Bruins’ sluggish start defensively, and set a pace that head coach Bill Peters was happy with.
“We started on time, we were pretty good early,” Peters said.
“Then they got goin’ as the game went along. Then as you near that finish line, and it’s a one-goal game either way or it’s a tie game, you’re diggin’ in.”
That’s the way it went from start to finish.
Special teams didn’t help either side as Carolina finished 0-for-2, while Boston had one man-advantage opportunity that it drew a blank on.
It was the gritty, end-to-end possessions and work that both teams put in to get the puck into the low slot at even-strength that made this one an attention-getter.
A scramble in front of Rask saw Carolina’s Chris Terry and defenseman Brett Bellemore both jump into the scrum to try to jam the puck into the Boston net, but with no success.
The reason was that both were pushed and cross checked from behind as Milan Lucic and Gregory Campbell defended successfully on the play and without any ensuing penalty calls.
Soon after, Campbell and Brad Malone tangled in the young Carolina forward’s second feature bout in a week.
Malone ended up the victor which energized the crowd considerably.
With eight minutes to play in the period, Staal and his linemates, brother Jordan and Elias Lindholm, gave Rask some of his toughest shots to handle.
As Jordan gained the zone, he circled around the net before dropping a pass to Eric who snapped a shot to the keeper’s short side.
Boston finally got its first shot on Khudobin with three minutes to go before the first intermission.
It was a play that required an exceptional pad save that Khudobin made as he slid across the top of his crease following David Krejci ‘s pass to the shooter, Reilly Smith.
Boston continued to press in the Hurricanes zone and followed up with a few more shots on the Russian netminder, but his pad saves kept the game scoreless until Dwyer scored with 33 seconds remaining.
As defenseman Justin Faulk placed a snap shot on net, Malone and linemate Jay McClement worked the puck in the corner and behind the net to eventually get another shot on goal.
As Rask jammed his pad against the post to stop McClement’s shot, Dwyer skated through the crease and jammed the puck into the net for his third goal of the season.
“Big goal by Patty gets us on the board,” Staal said.
“I thought we could have had a few more to make it two, especially in the second. Good effort – we’ll take it – and look forward to the next one.”
The Hurricanes outshot Boston 14-4 and led 1-0 heading into the first intermission.
“I thought it was a good game on both sides of the puck,” Dwyer said.
“I thought they were a little slow-starting, but I think they found their game. I thought it was a pretty entertaining game all around…We got it deep early. The whole group was forechecking – our first line to our fourth line – getting in there and banging bodies – putting pressure on their D. If you can get the pressure on their D, it’s hard (for them) to get out of their zone.”
The Bruins used the remaining time on their lone power play to generate scoring chances early in the second, but Khudobin and Carolina’s penalty kill denied them.
As much as the extra-man opportunity energized the Bruins offense, a delay of game penalty to Rask slowed it.
The goalkeeper had to rely on teammate Daniel Paille for help during Carolina’s power play.
The winger blocked an Eric Staal shot on the goal line that would have put Carolina ahead by two.
The Bruins eventually evened the score with 5:25 remaining in the period.
Bergeron one-timed a shot from the right circle on a pass from Brad Marchand as he wheeled around from behind the net and into the right corner before finding the Boston sniper cocked and loaded to finish the play.
Smith had a chance to put Boston ahead, but he hit the post after David Krejci drew defenseman Ron Hainsey and Khudobin over before passing him the puck.
Both teams remained tied heading into the third period.
“I thought they dug in, I thought our guys had a good response,” Peters said.
“What happens in the D-zone when you shoot the puck to break people down, now it’s a random puck – 50-50 puck. Nobody knows where it’s goin’. They looked a little quicker than us at times. So they had some good shifts and in sayin’ that when I look at it, it’s Bergeron, it’s Marchand, it’s Krejci, it’s Lucic – these are real players. These guys just know how to win.”
With four minutes to go, Bergeron and Marchand put together Boston’s best puck possession sequence of the game deep in the Hurricanes zone.
They circled in and around the corners and behind the net and won every puck battle.
Carl Soderberg had Boston’s best chance to score the go-ahead goal, but he missed a forehand sweep wide to Khudobin’s right.
Krejci then set Lucic up, but the netminder made a glove save on the shot from the high slot.
Regulation time ended and the five-minute overtime period maintained the same intensity level from both teams.
A Jeff Skinner to Faulk set-up was stopped by a Rask pad save that was soon followed up by a crease drive from Gerbe that could have ended it, but the keeper spread out his entire six-foot-two-inch frame out to make the stop.
At the other end, Khudobin made a save on Bergeron.
Coinciding minors to Smith and Rask were then assessed with 1:03 to play, and both teams played three-aside.
Hamilton put a shot on net that Khudobin stopped with his stick.
It was one last chance that Boston had to end the game, but didn’t.
With overtime unable to determine a winner, both sides then lined up their shooters.
As Terry and Skinner missed on their chances for Carolina, so did Smith and Torey Krug for Boston.
That left Staal and Bergeron to attempt to expose Rask or Khudobin.
Staal beat Rask with a shot low to the stick side.
Khudobin then came out considerably far from his crease to challenge former teammate Bergeron’s deke attempt which he denied with a sprawling left pad save.
”It’s a lot of emotions, a lot of nerves,” Khudobin said of earning another shootout victory.
“I was so pumped today. It’s not because it’s Boston, or Vancouver, or Detroit. It’s just because I want to play more and more. I wanted to win so badly and glad it happened.”
Notes: Though the majority of the Bruins shots on goal came from Smith (5), Dougie Hamilton (4), Carl Soderberg (3), and Lucic (3), everyone but Jordan Staal and Ron Hainsey had shots on net for Carolina…In outshooting Boston 14-4 in the first period, the Hurricanes held an opponent to four our fewer shots in an opening period for the first time since Jan. 22, 2014, in a 3-2 win over Philadelphia…It was another exceptionally hard-hitting contest that resulted in a win as the Hurricanes absorbed 42 checks while dishing out 31 of their own. Dwyer led the way with six hits.