Smith's two-point night leads Bruins past Hurricanes
Carl Soderberg (center) and Reilly Smith (right) each had a goal and an assist in Monday's victory. (Getty Images)
Final: Boston 4, Carolina 1
Recap: In what will be their lone regular-season game down in Raleigh this year, the B's got off to a stellar start. With Jiri Tlusty in the box for slashing, Reilly Smith buried his second goal of the season on the man advantage just 2:31 in. With 10:24 gone, Carl Soderberg -- who set up Smith for the opening tally -- tipped a shot from the point by Dennis Seidenberg past Cam Ward.
With five seconds remaining in the opening frame, Tuomo Ruutu scored his first goal of the season on a flukey play that saw Tuukka Rask fail to poke-check the puck away. After a scoreless second, the B's headed into the third with a 2-1 lead -- just as they did in an eventual 4-2 loss in Ottawa Friday.
Boston pushed the lead to two when Ward got knocked out of his crease in a pileup, allowing Johnny Boychuk to fire home a slap shot with the 'Canes goalie out of position. Milan Lucic iced it with an empty-netter.
Records: Boston 1-6-1, 27 points; Carolina 8-9-4, 20 points
Key Play of the Game: Midway through the second, Johnny Boychuk and Greg Campbell were sent to the box 57 seconds apart. The B's came up with a huge kill to preserve what was then a one-goal lead, notably when Rask robbed Chris Terry with a dazzling glove save.
Connolly's Commendations: Given that he crack NHL Tonight's top three stars, we've got to lead things off with Smith. After cooling off over the last few games, the third-line winger did all of his damage in this one in an eight-minute span with a goal and an assist in the opening period, setting the tone for the Black and Gold.
Soderberg also put an end to a mini-slump, as he came in with zero points in the last three games. He set up the B's first goal, buried their second and fired a game-high five shots on goal.
Connolly's Critiques: Outside of Patrice Bergeron (13-of-22), Boston's centers got spanked at the dot. Campbell, David Krejci and Chris Kelly combined to go 10-for-33 on faceoffs.
Notes: Ward was making his first start since suffering a lower-body injury on Oct. 24. He finished with 26 saves on 29 shots. ... Bergeron's four-game point streak came to an end.
Final Thoughts: Monday's game in Carolina was one the Bruins had to walk away with two points from, not for the sake of the standings but because the Hurricanes simply aren't very good. Shy of a weird goal, they held the opposition's impotent offense in check.
Next: The B's will now head to the Big Apple to take on the Rangers Tuesday night.