The Carolina Hurricanes, a team that plays in a sub-par Southeast Division, would not normally give the Boston Bruins much trouble.
Then, last season happened.
The Canes swept the season series last year (4-0-0) even though the B's played into the "mind games" of their opponent. They did not play their best hockey and the Hurricanes brought out the frustration in the Bruins.
Boston had a chance to get some retribution Monday night against the same team who they did not beat last season. This was not going to be an easy match-up, since Carolina added Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin to their already potent scoring offense.
Anton Khudobin got his first start in goal for the Bruins this season. Also, defenseman Adam McQuaid did not travel with the team due to personal reasons. Aaron Johnson took his place in the line-up.
The Bruins opened up the game with two quick goals from their special teams. Brad Marchand scored a slick goal on a pass by Zdeno Chara from the point while the B's were on the penalty kill. The Bruins captain got himself on the score sheet just three minutes later by beating Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward stick-side high. Chara's blast on net was a power play goal. Yes, a power play goal. Shocking.
After a lengthy fight between Milan Lucic (BOS) and Tim Gleason (CAR), the Canes got themselves back into it as Jamie McBain pulled his team within a goal. With the way that the Carolina defense turned the puck over in the first period, it was a minor miracle that Boston was only up by one after the opening period.
The second 20 minutes was as entertaining a hockey period that you will see in the regular season. Even though the Bruins were whistled for a couple of minor penalties, they were able to kill them off and match every scoring chance that the Hurricanes had to offer.
Nathan Horton was a one-man show when he scored his second goal of the season to put the B's up by two. However, that lead was short-lived as the Canes put the puck past Khudobin twice in 50 seconds on goals by Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal.
The third period was all about the goaltenders. Khudobin and Ward kept their respective teams in the game by coming up with some key saves. Finally, it was David Krejci that broke the tie as he blasted the puck past Ward off of a perfect pass from Dougie Hamilton. Tyler Seguin added an empty-net goal to break his goal drought and ice the game.
The Bruins knocked off the Hurricanes by a final score of 5-3. The metaphorical "weight" has been lifted off of the Bruins shoulders. They have salvaged a little self-respect against a team they could not beat last season. Boston improves to 4-0-1 on the year.
The Bruins will be back home on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.
Gold Star: Zdeno Chara...The captain recorded one goal and two assists in this contest. When you post three points and still pose as a force on defense, that is scary.
Black Star: Chris Kelly...Another thing that was scary in this game was his turnover in his own defensive zone. One thing that was overshadowed was that he was also only 40% from the face-off dot.