Series (Game 4 of 4)

Boston leads 2-1

Game 1: Thursday, November 21st
Game 2: Saturday, January 4th
Game 3: Wednesday, February 19th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 4th

Bruins 4

(29-26-3, 69 pts)

Hurricanes 2

(18-34-6, 51 pts)

7:00 PM ET, March 4, 2003

PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

1 2 3 T
BOS 2 1 14
CAR 1 0 12

B. Rolston (Bruins - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

G. Murray (Bruins - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

R. Francis (Hurricanes - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Bruins deal Hurricanes fifth straight defeat

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Boston Bruins broke out of their slump against a likely victim.

Brian Rolston had a goal and two assists as the Bruins snapped a season-worst nine-game winless streak with a 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Boston, 0-5-3-1 since its last win on Feb. 14, is clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and handed the slumping Hurricanes their fifth straight loss to move four points ahead of the New York Rangers.

The Bruins, with 16 games left, also have three games in hand on the Rangers.

"This is a relief, but we've got to build on this, to get over that hump that we couldn't get over even when we were playing good hockey games,'' Rolston said. "To get this win means a lot for our confidence.''

Carolina, the defending East champs, fell to 3-22-4-3 since Dec. 22.

"We're not going to stop playing in this dressing room and supporting one another and protecting one another,'' Carolina defenseman Bret Hedican said. "I know we haven't had the results like we wanted this year, but we can't quit on each other in here.''

Ron Francis scored 15 seconds into the third period to make it a one-goal game. The goal gave Francis his 20th 20-goal season. Only Gordie Howe has more with 22.

"To be mentioned in the same sentence with Gordie is a very special honor,'' Francis said.

However, Boston was able to kill off two penalties after Francis' goal and Rob Zamuner sealed it with a power-play goal with 2:11 remaining.

"I'm tired of analyzing the breaks and the bounces and the refereeing because we're not getting a favorable result,'' Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "But as long as we fight hard _ and they did in the third.''

Boston goaltender Jeff Hackett was forced to stop 16 shots in the final period to snap a six-game winless streak.

"This was a much more concentrated effort in the neutral zone and that's why we had some success,'' Hackett said. "We didn't turn the puck over.''

Boston, coming off a 6-4 loss to Vancouver on Monday night, scored early and late in the first period to grab a 2-1 lead.

Glen Murray notched his team-leading 35th goal, and fourth against Carolina, 1:58 in when he scored in the early stages of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Hedican.

Less than five minutes later rookie Ryan Bayda scored off a pass from Francis to tie it, but Arturs Irbe allowed a bad goal 45 seconds before intermission on a weak backhander by Rolston.

Murray then helped set up Mike Knuble midway through the second for a two-goal lead. Knuble's 18th of the season came from 30 feet out and went between the legs of Irbe, who drew boos from the crowd.

Two minutes after allowing Knuble's goal, Irbe stopped a shot from center ice and received a mock cheer from the fans.

The Hurricanes have been trying to showcase Irbe before the March 11 trade deadline, but he's allowed 12 goals in his last three starts since being recalled from the minors.

Carolina, last in the NHL in goals scored, have just five goals in their last five games. And again, the Hurricanes had no luck in this one as Sean Hill hit the post with a shot in the first and Josef Vasicek dinged one off the iron in the second.

"Now we've got to move forward,'' Rolston said. "Destiny is in our own hands.''

Game notes

The Bruins avoided their worst winless streak since February 1997. ... The teams came in with a combined 0-10-6-1 record in recent games. ... Carolina has led at the end of the first period just 13 times in 67 games, being outscored 62-34. ... Rookies Tomas Kurka, Mike Zigomanis and Bruno St. Jacques made their home debuts. ... Joe Thornton picked up his career-best 50th assist on Murray's goal.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press