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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hurricanes Pick Up Their First Win Of Season, At The Bruins' Expense

It is less than a week into the 2011-12 NHL season so pardon me if I can't quite work up a lather yet about the Boston Bruins' lame beginning.

The defending Stanley Cup champs have gotten off to a slow start; their first road game of the season was tonight at the RBC Center in Raleigh Center and the host Hurricanes (1-2-1) picked up their first win with a 3-2 triumph over the B's (1-3-0).

With seven goals in four games, it's clear that putting the puck in the net has been Boston's biggest issue so far. Let's not forget that the power play is still a hot mess, off to a rousing 1 for 18 start (picking up where they left off in the playoffs).

David Krejci missed the game with a midsection injury so Tyler Seguin got the bump up to center on the first line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton flanking him. Boston still needs Krejci but for one game at least, Seguin (1 goal, 4 shots, 7 of 9 on face-offs) was a more than suitable replacement.

B's goaltender Tim Thomas (1-2-0) got his third start and yet again, it wasn't his fault that his team failed to get two points. He made 31 saves but was the victim of some bad luck and a shaky defense in front of him.

Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward (26 saves) showed why he's one of the more underrated guys at his position with a strong showing.

After a scoreless first period, Carolina opened the scoring 42 seconds into the second frame with a power-play strike from defenseman Joni Pitkanen (1st of the season). Former Bruins great Tomas Kaberle and Jussi Jokinen assisted on the goal. Pitkanen was by the face-off dot and he took forever to fake a shot twenty times before finally unleashing a low one that found its way past Thomas. It appeared like Erik Staal screened Thomas on the play, regardless he should not have been able to park there so easily.

Boston bumbled through three straight scoreless power play chances and predictably, they didn't get a call the rest of the night (the B's had the last three penalties).

When Carolina's Anthony Stewart (1st of the season) scored 3:42 into the third (from Tim Brent and Tim Gleason) on a shot that trickled past Thomas at the post, I was firing off an angry Tweet but Seguin interrupted my venom with a sick top-shelf wrist shot just 25 seconds later. It was his first of many this season, from Horton and Adam McQuaid. It was a juicy glimpse of what Seguin can do when he has room to shoot.

Something called Jiri Tlusty (1st of the season) iced it with his game-winner at 13:32 from Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer. He was unmarked in the slot and made Thomas and Co. pay for that.

Boston was about to go on another ill-fated power play but Patrice Bergeron hit Brad Marchand with a nice cross-ice feed for a one-timer and the Bruins' second goal (Marchmont's second of the season). Former Hurricane Joe Corvo had the second assist at 16:35.

I'm not going to say time ran out on the Bruins since it never really felt like they'd ever tie it before regulation ended.

McQuaid ran head first into the boards (how many times has he done that in the last year?) in the third and didn't return. Don't be surprised to see him held out of the next game with Matt Bartkowski getting another shot after being a healthy scratch for the last three contests.

It won't get any easier as the B's will remain on the road the next few days before meeting the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night. After failing to really show up against two subpar teams (Carolina and Colorado), expect Boston to at least make a game of it in Theo Epstein's new home.

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