Series (Game 4 of 4)

Boston leads 3-1

Game 1: Friday, November 26th
Game 2: Monday, January 17th
Game 3: Tuesday, January 18th
Game 4: Tuesday, February 1st

Bruins 3

(29-15-7, 65 pts)

Hurricanes 2

(25-20-6, 56 pts)

7:00 PM ET, February 1, 2011

PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

1 2 3 T
BOS 0 1 23
CAR 0 1 12

T. Thomas (Bruins - G): Saves: 24, Save Pct.: .923

E. Cole (Hurricanes - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Z. Chara (Bruins - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Bruins-Hurricanes Preview


Eric Staal couldn't captain his team to a victory in the All-Star game, but he's hoping the second half of the season will have a more positive outcome for his Carolina Hurricanes.

Beating the Boston Bruins would be a good start.

Two weeks after the Bruins finished a home-and-home sweep of Carolina, they'll be back in Raleigh on Tuesday night hoping to emerge from the All-Star break with another victory.

Staal picked one of the teams for Sunday's event at the RBC Center, selecting Boston captain Zdeno Chara in the fourth round, but Team Staal lost to Nicklas Lidstrom's group 11-10.

Although Staal scored twice on Boston's Tim Thomas in the third period, he ended up with the familiar feeling of watching Thomas get the victory. The Hurricanes got only two of their 76 shots past Thomas in back-to-back losses to the Bruins on Jan. 17 and 18.

One day after Thomas notched his seventh shutout in a 7-0 home rout, he made a season-high 43 saves in a 3-2 victory in Raleigh.

"We didn't get the results that we wanted, but our compete level was there and we ... couldn't find a way to get the puck to the back of the net," Staal said.

Thomas is the clear frontrunner for his second Vezina Trophy and the biggest reason the Bruins (28-15-7) are atop the Northeast Division. He leads the league in goals-against average (1.81) and save percentage (.945) and is tied with the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist for the most shutouts.

He's also 7-2-0 with a 1.98 GAA in his last nine regular-season starts against Carolina, which begins the second half one point behind Atlanta for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Hurricanes (25-19-6) have surged into the playoff chase by going 10-4-2 in their last 16 games, capped by a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

"We wanted to head into this All-Star break on a high note and feel good about ourselves," All-Star goaltender Cam Ward said.

Carolina went 6-1-1 at home in January, but the lone regulation loss came to the Bruins. While Staal has nine goals and nine assists in his last 16 games, he was held to one assist in two games against Boston, often shadowed by Chara.

The 6-foot-9 Chara broke his own record for the hardest shot in Saturday's skills competition, blasting a 105.9 mph slapper at the RBC Center. He had his first career hat trick Jan. 17 against Carolina, while Milan Lucic scored the game-winner against the Hurricanes the next night.

That snapped a 12-game goal drought for Lucic -- Boston's leader with 20 goals -- and he'll hope to carry some momentum through the break after scoring four goals in his last five games.

He netted another game-winner in Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Florida, while Thomas stopped 34 shots to help Boston seize a four-point division lead over second-place Montreal.

"It's always good to go into one of these breaks on a high note and feeling good about yourself," Thomas said. "You can really savor the feeling of winning a couple of days."

Patrice Bergeron hopes the time off won't cool him down. He has eight goals, seven assists and a plus-13 rating in his last 11 games, helping the Bruins go 7-3-1.

Staal, Tuomo Ruutu and All-Star rookie Jeff Skinner have been nearly as hot for Carolina, combining for 20 goals and 26 assists in 14 January games.