From the Associated Press –
Cam Ward’s second playoff shutout in four games and a rare misplay by Zdeno Chara gave the Carolina Hurricanes a split of their first two games against the Boston Bruins on Sunday night.
Ward turned aside 36 shots, and Chara’s bad pass led to Matt Cullen’s short-handed goal as the Hurricanes won 3-0 and headed home for Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Friday nights.
The Bruins were the last unbeaten team in the playoffs after the Detroit Red Wings lost to the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 in triple overtime Sunday. Boston goalie Tim Thomas’ winning streak ended at 11 games, including the last six of the regular season.
Joe Corvo also scored, and Eric Staal added an empty-net goal with 28 seconds left.
Ward, the MVP of the 2006 playoffs won by Carolina, preserved his shutout with 6:37 left when Michael Ryder pounced on a loose puck in front of the net. Ward flashed his left pad out to stop the shot then made a save after Dennis Wideman got the rebound.
The Hurricanes had done poorly on the power play in their previous eight playoff games, scoring just twice in 30 opportunities. They did well on a power play on Sunday — Boston’s.
The Bruins got the man advantage with 6:24 gone in the second period when Joni Pitkanen was sent off for elbowing. Chara, a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman, passed the puck from the left point toward Wideman at the right point, but Chad LaRose stepped between them and stole it.
He raced down the left side, skated behind the net and fed the puck out front to Cullen, who snapped a one-timer past Thomas.
The Hurricanes nearly made it 3-0 with less than 3 seconds left in the period when Larose’s shot from the inside edge of the left circle beat Thomas to the far side. The puck ricocheted from the post along the goal line. The red light went on but an official signaled that it hadn’t crossed the goal line, a call that stood after a long video review.
Ward’s first playoff shutout of the year came in a 4-0 win in Game 6 against New Jersey, a series Carolina won by scoring two goals in the last 80 seconds of Game 7.
But he nearly lost this shutout midway through the first period when Chuck Kobasew stole the puck from Pitkanen and fed Patrice Bergeron in front of the net. Bergeron shot it from the slot but it flew over the crossbar.
Then the Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead at 2:30 of the second period on Corvo’s rising slap shot from 5 feet above the left circle that went by Thomas’ left arm.
The win was Carolina’s first of the season against Boston, which went 4-0 in the regular season, then won Friday night’s opener 4-1. The Bruins are 3-0 in playoff series against the Hurricanes, including a 1999 win that was their last series victory before this year.
Rob Brind’Amour played in his 150th postseason game and 63rd with Carolina, passing the franchise record set by Ron Francis, now the team’s associate head coach. … The Bruins’ 2-0 deficit after the second period marked the first time they’d trailed after a period in this year’s playoffs.