The Carolina Hurricanes dropped the first game of the series to the Boston Bruins, 4-1 in a mistake-laden contest in Beantown Friday night. Three of the Bruins four goals came about directly because of turnovers and the number one team in the East took full advantage of the opportunities given to them.
Just a minute and a half into the game, Boston would score on their very first shot on goal. Aaron Ward flicked the puck toward the net and David Krejci tipped it past Cam Ward, who never seemed to see it. Bruins 1, Canes 0.
The rest of the first period was fairly evenly contested. The Canes would tie things up just before the end of the period when Jussi Jokinen shot a puck on net which Boston goalie Tim Thomas seemed to have, but somehow the puck slipped into the net. Ryan Bayda and Joni Pitkanen earned assists on the play.
The Bruins would score twice in the second period to take control of the game. Marc Savard stole the puck from Scott Walker in the corner of the Carolina zone, then passed it out front. A shot went on net which Cam Ward stopped, but the rebound popped right to Savard who backhanded it into the goal.
About five minutes later, Tuomo Ruutu tried a cross rink pass in the neutral zone which was intercepted by Michael Ryder. The red-hot sniper beat Cam Ward with a nice shot, and the Bruins were making it look easy.
Seven minutes into the third period, Marc Savard would once again steal the puck, this time from Matt Cullen, who was trying to pass to himself along the boards. Savard skated the puck into the Hurricanes zone and rifled it past Ward, who looked out of position on the play.
The Hurricanes were able to get 27 shots on net and forced Thomas to make a few difficult saves, but did not get consistent traffic in front of the Boston goalie like they did with Martin Brodeur. They will need to eliminate their mistakes and pick up their intensity if they intend to make this a competitive series.
While the Canes generated plenty of shots on goal, most were not the highest quality of shots. I only recall Ryan Bayda consistently creating traffic and he was given a goalie interference penalty once for his trouble when he crashed into Thomas.
Maurice mixed the lines up from the start of the game and continued to mix and match throughout. At first he had Patrick Eaves and Tuomo Ruutu change spots. Then he bumped Chad LaRose off of the first line and moved Erik Cole in his spot. LaRose had been one of the most consistent players in round one and had seven points. Cole played somewhat better in this game, but still did not get close to getting on the scoresheet.
Tripp Tracy mentioned on the telecast about poor play in the center of the ice for the Canes. Eric Staal should not be blamed because he had a decent game, but Rod Brind'Amour and Matt Cullen continue to be non-factors. The captain has yet to dent the scoresheet this entire postseason. Cullen is simply ineffective. The center has not practiced with the team or taken a pregame skate in about a month because of a foot injury. Perhaps he should sit until he is at least healthy enough to practice?
The fourth line of Scott Walker, Ryan Bayda, and Jussi Jokinen had the most consistent effort of the night. They generated chances and unlike the other lines, were able to control the puck for periods of time. Jokinen continues to produce and Bayda continues to shine.
Joe Corvo led the team with five shots on goal. Erik Cole had four while Eric Staal just had two.
Dennis Seidenberg, Tuomo Ruutu, and Erik Cole each had four hits, tops for Carolina. Shawn Thornton had seven for Boston. The Bruins had 32 hits compared to 23 for the Canes.
The Bruins had 16 blocked shots to 8 for the Canes.
It seemed like the Hurricanes lacked focus and perhaps suffered from a letdown after the intense battle with New Jersey. Regardless, they need to righten the ship quickly and keep from handing the Bruins grade A chances. You can never read too much into just one game, and remember they also lost game one to New Jersey by the same score, but they need to improve. Boston is much better than New Jersey.
Game two is at 7:30 on Sunday night.