Bruins finish strongly
They end road trip by blitzing Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. — With an ice bag bundled around his right knee, Patrice Bergeron limped to the X-ray room at RBC Center, wondering how much damage a Mark Stuart slap shot had delivered.
At 17:18 of the third period, with the Bruins enjoying a three-goal lead, Bergeron had fallen to the ice, then skated to the dressing room with help from his teammates — a frightening sequence for a team already missing Marc Savard.
“I didn’t know. I didn’t want to scare myself,’’ Bergeron said. “But when you can’t really feel your leg, it’s kind of a weird feeling. Obviously, the pain was pretty high.’’
Bergeron and the Bruins breathed a sigh of relief when X-rays came back negative. He expects to be sore today, but Bergeron, the team’s No. 1 center in Savard’s absence, shouldn’t miss any time.
“It doesn’t look that way right now,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He seems to be OK. The prognosis is that he’s OK. Hopefully it’s just a bruise from the puck just inside the knee.’’
A serious Bergeron injury would have thrown a damp towel over a 5-2 win before 15,832 fans that saw the Bruins explode for three third-period goals. Four of the Bruins’ top six forwards beat Carolina goalie Manny Legace, with the fifth strike coming off the stick of rush-joining defenseman Johnny Boychuk — a rarity for the stay-at-home blue line corps.
“Kind of surprised a little bit,’’ said Boychuk. “Just jumped up real early. [Matt Hunwick] was jumping up as well. He saw me and gave me the pass. I looked up and I was surprised. I fanned on the shot but went five-hole.’’
The victory capped a seven-game road swing for the Bruins — their longest of the season — and came one night after a disappointing 3-2 loss to New Jersey. Some of the joy was muted after the game upon news that they’d be staying overnight in Raleigh because their charter plane was unavailable.
But even though their return home was delayed, the Bruins were happy to have laid to rest a 3-3-1 road trip that kept them among the East’s top eight.
“It’s huge,’’ said Mark Recchi (game-winning goal in the third) of the 2 points. “We ended up .500 on the road trip on a seven-gamer. It was good. We ended it the right way.
“Now we have to carry it home. We’ve got a couple tough ones, Pitt Thursday and Rangers on Sunday. We’ve got to keep it up. We’ve got to play the right way and be willing to battle.
“It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be hard. But the reward at the end of the night is always much more enjoyable when you play that way.’’
After Bergeron’s early goal (he tipped a Dennis Seidenberg floater past Legace at 0:23 of the first) and Boychuk’s second-period strike, the Hurricanes got on the board when Erik Cole scored on the power play at 13:53 of the second.
In the first minute of the third, with Recchi serving a holding penalty, the Hurricanes had a glittering chance to even the score. Jussi Jokinen, a Bruin killer in last year’s postseason, fired a point-blank shot on goal. But Tuukka Rask slid over in time and got his pads in front of the sharpshooter’s attempt.
“I didn’t see him coming,’’ Rask said. “I guess he came from a little further away. But I saw the pass made through my crease. So I tried to make myself big and be in front of the puck.’’
Rask’s save, one of 30 for the rookie, turned out to be the game’s pivotal stop. Had Jokinen scored, it would have been a 2-2 game. Instead, after Rask stuffed Jokinen, David Krejci gained control of the puck, saw Recchi step out of the box, and shuttled the puck up to his teammate.
In turn, Blake Wheeler jumped up to create a two-on-two, which ended with Recchi slamming an off-wing wrister through Legace (32 saves) at 0:45 of the third, giving the Bruins a 3-1 lead.
“Great play by Krech,’’ Recchi said. “A lot of times they get it and just dump it down at the end of the PK. He made a real smart play.
“I was fortunate. I was going to pass it. But they both went over to Wheels. So I just decided to shoot it and got a lucky bounce off his glove.’’
Sixty-eight seconds later, Cole trimmed Boston’s lead to 3-2 by finding a loose puck in the crease and slipping a shot by Rask. But the Bruins countered with goals by Michael Ryder and Krejci, both off defensive-zone turnovers.
Timely saves. A flood of goals by the league’s worst offense. A rest day today before taking on Matt Cooke and the Penguins tomorrow. Most important, no serious injury to Bergeron.
The Bruins will take all that.