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Hurricanes 3, Bruins 2

Carolina blue

Jokinen hits the spot as Hurricanes roll on

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / May 7, 2009
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RALEIGH, N.C. - The Bruins did not deserve to win Game 3.

Seemingly quaking in their skates before a sellout crowd of 18,680 at the RBC Center last night, the Bruins were thoroughly outclassed for three periods. After 60 minutes, Carolina held a 38-19 shot advantage. With his teammates making plays and pressuring Tim Thomas throughout the night, Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward could have checked out of the rink, picked up some takeout, and returned to the crease without missing a puck on net.

Amid the Carolina firestorm, in the ultimate display of injustice, the taking-a-licking Bruins wiped out a 2-1 deficit with a tying goal at 9:03 of the third period, then hung on with every tooth and nail to send the game into overtime.

But hockey proved out to be fair last night.

At 2:48 of overtime, fourth-line center Jussi Jokinen tapped in a close-range rebound of a Sergei Samsonov backhander to power the Hurricanes to a 3-2 win. Carolina takes a 2-1 lead into Game 4 tomorrow night.

After the loss, Dennis Wideman had perhaps the most damning statement about his team.

"We got outworked," said the defenseman.

On the winning goal, Zdeno Chara tried to clear the puck up the wall. Samsonov darted in front, picked off the clear, and attacked Chara. The captain lunged forward with his stick. Samsonov slashed around it, went to his backhand, and put the puck on goal. Linemate Tuomo Ruutu had gained inside position on Aaron Ward, preventing the defenseman from clearing Samsonov's rebound. The puck went to the stick of Jokinen, who had an easy tap-in to beat Thomas.

"They took it to us," said Thomas. "Finally, they ended up breaking us down. They pressured us, pressured us, pressured us. Eventually, they ended up capitalizing."

In perhaps the most hair-pulling aspect about last night's loss (and you could probably say the same for the first 40 minutes of the 3-0 Game 2 setback), the Bruins competed like it was preseason. They lost races for pucks. They gave away pucks like Christmas presents. They were scared to enter the danger areas and risk a blast to the back or a slash to the legs.

This all happened while the Hurricanes played one of their best games of 2008-09.

"Very uncharacteristic of our hockey club," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of his shell-shocked group. "You've got to give credit to the other team. They played extremely well and extremely hard. But we certainly didn't give them a good opposition tonight. We certainly didn't give too much resistance."

The Bruins took a 1-0 lead into the second period, courtesy of a Milan Lucic goal. The left wing scored by doing something that was seen far too seldom all night - going to the net.

But in the second, the Hurricanes used their speed, size, and determination to wear down the Bruins. Boston buckled after an extended shift by Eric Staal and his linemates left the Bruins running around, gassed from chasing pucks and absorbing head-spinning body slams. In the middle of the cycle, Michael Ryder ran into wing Erik Cole and was called for interference.

At 16:49, Staal put his team on the board by emerging in the high-stakes moment. After taking a behind-the-net pass from Wideman, Steve Montador tried to clear the puck. But Staal slammed his stick down on Montador's, stole the puck, then turned to power a shot past Thomas.

"They were the hungrier team," Thomas said.

Sixty-nine seconds later, the Hurricanes kicked the Bruins in the teeth again. Phil Kessel lost an edge in the neutral zone, fell to the ice, and coughed up the puck to Jokinen, who triggered the offensive rush. Jokinen passed to linemate Scott Walker, who spotted Samsonov blowing into the offensive zone. Samsonov, charging past Kessel's backcheck, took a cross-ice pass from Walker and flung a shot past Thomas at 17:58.

"In the second period, we got caught out there for some extended shifts," Wideman said. "Against a team like that, when you get caught out for some longer shifts, you don't quite have the jump. They're going to keep the pressure on you pretty good. We have to do a better job of getting the puck in deep and getting changes."

As rotten as Boston's second period was, the Bruins rallied in the third and got a fortunate bounce to tie the game. Ruutu hit the deck and blocked a Montador shot from the right point. But Montador stayed with the play, followed the puck, and chipped it ahead to Chuck Kobasew. Before running out of room down the right wing, Kobasew flung a shot toward the net.

Mark Recchi, stationed in front of Ward for one of the few times this series, deflected Kobasew's toss past the Carolina goalie at 9:03.

At the start of overtime, the Bruins had several glittering chances. In the opening minute, Lucic stepped around defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, but his close-range shot thudded off Ward's chest. Later, Marc Savard had two whacks while Ward was down and out. Seidenberg blocked Savard's first attempt, then the center slammed his second shot wide. On the following shift, David Krejci set up Ryder in the slot, but the right wing failed to score, setting up Jokinen's winner.

In a game the Hurricanes owned, the hockey gods made sure the right team won.

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