The Boston Bruins answered their coach's plea for a big effort with an impressive performance against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night.
Facing elimination in the Stanley Cup playoffs, winger Phil Kessel scored two goals to lead the Bruins to a convincing 4-0 victory over Carolina on Sunday night at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.
The Bruins, who still trail 3-2 in the NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series, will try to avoid elimination once again when they play Game 6 on Tuesday night (7 p.m. ET) in Raleigh, N.C.
After watching his team lose its third straight playoff game to the Hurricanes, Boston coach Claude Julien called out several of his top players. The No. 1 seeded club in the East responded, delivering several big hits in what was clearly the nastiest affair of the series.
Marc Savard chipped in with two assists and goaltender Tim Thomas made 19 saves to earn his first career post-season shutout. Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic also scored for Boston.
"Timmy deserved the kind of night he had tonight," said Julien. "He's been peppered with a lot of shots in the games before that. Maybe his teammates felt they owed it to him, to give him an easier night. They did a great job in front of him."
<img src="/includes/promos/promo/sports/images/ward_200.jpg" width="200" height="100" border= "0">[/CUSTOM]
Aaron Ward injured
The Boston Bruins lost Aaron Ward late in the third period with what team doctors suspect could be a broken orbital bone in his face.
With 2:47 remaining in a lopsided contest, Carolina winger Scott Walker decked Ward with a vicious right cross, sending the Bruins defenceman to the ice.
Walker received a 10-minute game misconduct, five minutes for fighting and two minutes for instigating.
Boston coach Claude Julien would like the league to review the play before Boston's Game 6 clash with the Hurricanes on Tuesday night (7 p.m. ET) in Raleigh, N.C.
"The Walker incident is not something they should be proud of," he said."Something like that is not what you want to see, your player put in that position. Hopefully the people in charge will see that play and decide what they want to do about it."
Carolina coach Paul Maurice chuckled at the incident.
"Scott probably has sore knuckles," he said.
Asked if the NHL might fine his winger, Maurice quipped: "I may have to sell my truck."
Carolina goaltender Cam Ward, terrific through most of this series, stopped 36 of 40 shots.
"We get to go back home in front of our fans and hopefully get the job done in six," said Eric Staal, who had four goals in the previous three games but just three shots and was a minus-3 in Game 5.
"We need to regroup and forget it."
A victory on Tuesday would give the Bruins an opportunity to extend the matchup and accomplish something they've never achieved prior to these playoffs. In the 21 times that the Bruins have faced a 3-1 deficit, the NHL club has never rallied to win a series.
"It was the only option we had, being down 3-1 and at home in front of our fans," defenceman Zdeno Chara said of Boston's play. "But we are in the same situation and are fighting for another day."
The Bruins grabbed the early edge in play through most of the first period, finally taking a 1-0 lead at 14:48. After Savard won a draw, Recchi redirected a Chara point shot between the legs of Ward.
Thomas took over minutes later, making two brilliant saves off Sergei Samsonov and Jussi Jokinen during a Hurricanes power play.The saves proved timely as the Bruins stormed back for a two-goal advantage with 1:24 remaining in the first.
Kessel finds the net
Kessel weaved his way into the Carolina end before sending a drop pass to Savard. The Bruins centre then fed a beautiful cross-ice return pass to Kessel, who one-timed his fifth goal of the post-season into the open side.
Kessel made it 3-0 just 4:40 into the second following another great pass from Savard. Kessel notched his second of the game when he took a feed from Savard in the slot and buried a shot to the right of Ward.
Prior to the goal, Chara levelled Staal with a monster hit. Staal tried to return the favour, but took the brunt of the next blow on his attempted check.
Enjoying his best game of this series, Chara left late in the second after he took a two-handed slash in the back of the left leg from Jokinen. In obvious pain, Chara, who registered two assists, was taken to the locker room but did return for the final period.
"My heart skipped a beat when he was down because I know he doesn't fake things — ever," Thomas said.
"The slash on Zdeno is a cheap shot; we all know that," added Julien.
Lucic added a third-period goal at 12:21, along with an earlier assist.
The final 20 minutes turned nasty, with a total of 67 minutes in penalties called.
The Bruins did a masterly job in shutting out Carolina's two leading playoff scorers — Staal and Jokinen.
Staal tops the Hurricanes with 12 points, followed by Jokinen's 10.
"They did a good job coming back and being ready to play, as we expected," said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. "And we're going to have the same challenge."