With the game tied 3-3 after two periods of play, David Krejci put the Bruins ahead with 1:50 to play in the third, and it was a deficit that the Hurricanes could not overcome.
Being outshot for the first time this season, 38-32, Carolina couldn’t stave off the Bruins who competed for a full 60 minutes to earn the win, while the Hurricanes wanted to have the last five of them back.
“They came out hard,” forward Jeff Skinner said.
“We made a couple of mistakes early and they capitalized, but I think we got back in the game. It seems like the last five minutes we sorta sat back and they capitalized.”
Bruins stuck to their plan
Right from the opening faceoff, the Bruins commanded the flow of the game and appeared to get to the puck at both ends of the ice one stride faster than the Hurricanes did.
When Carolina worked to gain the offensive zone with possession, Boston’s defensemen were there to rush the play, and instead forced the Hurricanes to shoot the puck into the corners to pursue it.
“They really clog the neutral zone up on teams,” Caroline head coach Kirk Muller said.
“They force you to dump and that’s where we tried to penetrate with pucks in and get some races goin’.”
Falling behind early
The Bruins jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after Brad Marchand connected on a one-time shot that beat goaltender Cam Ward to his left side.
It was a shorthanded goal scored just 3:16 into the game that came about as the result of a tape-to-tape pass from defenseman Zdeno Chara who found the scrappy Bruins forward all alone in front of the Carolina net.
Just under three minutes later, Chara ripped a shot from the point that found its way through traffic in front of Ward – a power play goal that put the Bruins ahead 2-0.
Trailing by two goals, the Hurricanes couldn’t capitalize on a two-man advantage they had with less than 10 minutes to play in the period.
McBain tipped Semin’s pass to Eric Staal on the right boards and as he continued towards the net he got the puck back from Staal and tipped it in to score his first goal of the season.
Trailing 2-1 after the first period of play, Carolina came out with more energy and worked hard to get back into the game.
“We knew it was going to be a tough battle, and you had to fight for every inch you got tonight,” Muller said.
Being afforded another two-man advantage early in the second period, Carolina couldn’t connect to get any closer to the Bruins.
Boston’s ability to deny the Hurricanes any flow to its offensive rhythm created problems, but not less opportunities.
“It didn’t have an up-and-down feel,” Staal said.
“It was chip and chase in the neutral zone. Give them credit, they’ve got a pretty good team that sticks to its system, they stayed with their game plan. Credit us for battling back.”
The Bruins’ Nathan Horton added to the Bruins lead as he corralled the puck in the neutral zone, beat Tim Gleason along the right boards before firing a shot past Ward to extend the score to 3-1 with 4:08 to go in the second period.
However, Carolina finally found an opening as Skinner scored his fifth goal of the season after picking the puck up off the boards, the result of a Jordan Staal tip past Bruins defender Andrew Ference.
As Skinner raced towards Boston goaltender Anton Khudobin, he tucked the puck over the netminder’s left shoulder, neatly underneath the crossbar, to bring the score back down to a one goal differential.
With barely enough time to celebrate, the Hurricanes tied the game up after Semin intercepted a pass in the Bruins zone and found Eric Staal all by himself in front of the net.
Staal made no mistake as his wrist shot beat Khudobin, giving the crowd a reason to celebrate and cheer loudly.
Final period letdown
“They’re a team that waits for their opportunity,” the Hurricanes captain said in describing Krejci’s eventual game-winning goal.
“They got one and they capitalized.”
Muller saw it as the Bruins simply forcing his team into situations in which they got the upper hand on them with.
“We lost too many battles,” Muller said.
“Our competitive level has got to be better.”
Working on consistency
Not only did the loss break the Hurricanes’ most recent four-game win streak over the Bruins, but it put them at a 2-3 mark on the season.
The team’s inconsistent play is a product of players still working to develop chemistry while as a group trying to execute the style of play and game plan that the coaching staff has set out for it to follow.
“We gotta’ understand that tight games like that, you don’t get off your game, you just stay with it,” Muller said.
“We gotta’ get the work boots on, and work hard the next coupla’ days. There are still areas that we just have to pound the consistency of what our system is, so that we’re still comfortable with it. Sometimes, as we did tonight, we get away from it.”
Practice makes perfect
The Hurricanes will have three days of practice to prepare for their next game at home against the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
Specifically, Carolina will work to improve its special teams play, with particular emphasis on the power play.
Against the Bruins, the Hurricanes finished 0-6 with the man-advantage, and now possess an anemic 11.5 percent success rate (3-26) after five games.
“We haven’t hit where we were at the end of last season,” Muller continued.
“We still got areas to get better – our special teams gotta’ be better, our puck movement is not where we want to be at. We’ve had signs of it, but we gotta’ get more consistent on it.”