BOSTON (AP) -- Andrew Ladd's two-goal spurt set the tone for the game.
Shawn Thornton's two-goal spurt came too late to make a difference.
"Fortunately, we were able to prevail -- even though it got a little interesting," Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward said Tuesday night after Carolina took a shutout into the final six minutes and held on to beat the Boston Bruins 3-2.
"That [first] goal gave them life," Ward added. "They were able to come on and put some pressure on."
Ladd scored twice in the first 6:33, and former Bruins first-round draft choice Sergei Samsonov gave the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead with 1:31 left in the second period. Ward protected the shutout until Thornton had two goals in a 27-second span with around five minutes left.
"We got our first goal a little late, but you saw the momentum that it built and the energy that it gave our team," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "If only we could have gotten that earlier in the game."
Rod Brind'Amour assisted on both of Ladd's goals to help the Hurricanes improve to 2-3 on their five-game road trip. With the win, Carolina moved into first place in the Southeast Division, ahead of Washington and Atlanta, who play Wednesday night.
"We're battling for a playoff spot," Samsonov said. "For us, it's almost a playoff game."
Boston trailed 3-0 when Thornton's shot from the right side went off the top of Ward's glove and into the net with 5:10 left in the game. The Bruins made it 3-2 with 4:43 left when Ward made a save that trickled between his pads and stopped in the crease behind him; Thornton came by to swat the idle puck into the net.
Boston made a furious charge in the last four minutes, pulling goalie Alex Auld but failing to get the game-tying goal.
Ward stopped 32 shots, and Auld made 20 saves for Boston.
Thornton's goals were his first of the season, giving him his first two-goal game of his career. They also deprived Ward of his second consecutive shutout against the Bruins; he also shut out Boston on Jan. 8 and hasn't allowed a goal to the Bruins since the third period of Carolina's 4-3 victory on Dec. 28.
The Bruins lost their second consecutive game, their fourth in five tries and their third in a row to Carolina. They now embark on a five-game trip of their own to clear the new Boston Garden for Disney's High School Musical: The Ice Tour.
Ladd gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead when Brind'Amour split two defenders and pushed the puck up to Ladd just 3:01 in. Ladd made it 2-0 when he kicked the puck past Auld at the 6:33 mark of the first.
"I just turned my foot. It was more of a reaction more than anything else," Ladd said. "I just turned my foot, and it went in."
The play was reviewed, but the officials allowed the goal to stand.
Julien was stunned.
"In my mind, there's no doubt that's not a goal," Julien said. "I don't even see how you can even think about calling that a goal."
Carolina forward Ray Whitney played in his 900th career game, and his 200th with the Hurricanes. ... The Hurricanes recalled forward Ryan Bayda from Albany of the AHL. ... Ward's shutout streak against Boston ended at a total of 130:52. ... Thornton's pair of goals in 27 seconds were the fastest by a Bruin since Mike Knuble scored twice in 17 seconds on Dec. 14, 2003, in Florida.