NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 1st (All times eastern)
Boston Bruins (28-15-7) at Carolina Hurricanes (25-19-6), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Fresh off a successful job as hosts of the 2011 All- Star Game, the Carolina Hurricanes will shoot for a third straight win when they welcome the Boston Bruins tonight at RBC Center.
The Hurricanes welcomed the hockey world to Raleigh this past weekend, but the home-ice advantage could not help Team Staal earn the win in the midseason showdown. Carolina captain Eric Staal's team, which also featured his Hurricane teammates Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner, dropped an 11-10 decision to the team led by Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
Although Staal's club lost the game on Sunday, they were at least able to win the SuperSkills challenge on Saturday night to give the hometown fans something to cheer about.
Ward felt that his club's supporters made a lasting impression on the hockey world with their passion for a sport that is not supposed to play well in the southern part of the U.S.
"It was good for fans from out of town to see what hockey is like in the south, and I think they'll go back home with a different perspective of Raleigh," said Ward. "We're blessed that we get to play here every day."
The Bruins, meanwhile, will join their All-Star teammates in Raleigh for tonight's contest. Boston goaltender Tim Thomas and defenseman Zdeno Chara, who played on opposite teams this weekend in Raleigh, remained in North Carolina for a day of rest after Sunday's game.
Thomas earned the win in the All-Star Game over Chara and Team Lidstrom. Boston's backstop has been the winning goaltender in three straight All- Star games to become the first netminder to win three consecutive ASGs.
"I don't think people are checking out All-Star records ... but it definitely meant something to me," Thomas told the Bruins website. "I was hoping to play the third period so that I would be in position to [be the goalie of] record."
Chara also had another memorable All-Star weekend as he broke his own record in the hardest shot event at Saturday's skills competition with a blast of 105.9 mph.
While Thomas and Chara received the day off on Monday, Bruins forward Tyler Seguin, who was one of the rookies selected to participate in Saturday's skills competition, flew back to Boston and practiced with the club on Monday morning.
Boston comes out of the break in first place in the Northeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are currently ninth in the East and just one point behind Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff seed in the conference.
Tonight marks the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the Bruins and 'Canes. Carolina posted a 3-0 win in Boston to begin the season series on Nov. 26, but the Bruins swept a home-and-home series against the Hurricanes in January. Thomas stopped 43-of-45 shots to help Boston notch a 3-2 regulation win in Raleigh when the clubs last met on Jan. 18.
Boston has taken four of five and 10 of 12 overall in the series and has claimed five of the last six meetings at the RBC Center.
Carolina entered the break with back-to-back wins and Paul Maurice's club posted a road win over the New York Islanders last Wednesday, Staal scored two goals and Ward made 23 saves to help lift the Hurricanes to the 4-2 decision at Nassau Coliseum.
Zach Boychuk and Brandon Sutter also scored for the Hurricanes, who have won three of their last four.
"It was a huge game for us before the break," said Staal, who also had an assist in the victory. "It was a good start for us, good effort and we stayed with it, stayed on the gas."
Carolina is 13-8-2 as the host this year and has won five of its last six games in Raleigh. Following tonight's tilt, the 'Canes will play six of their next seven games on the road.
Boston won two out of three before the All-Star break and picked up a 2-1 home win when it faced Florida on Wednesday. Thomas made 15 of his 34 saves in the third period to help anchor the Bruins in the victory.
Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic lit the lamp for the Bruins, who have won four out of six and are four points ahead of Montreal for the division lead.
Boston, which will begin a four-game homestand Thursday against Dallas, is 15-6-4 as the road club this season.
02/01 10:50:29 ET