Canes push Bruins to brink

Published 8:02 pm Saturday, May 9, 2009

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH — Eric Staal scored two goals to break the club career playoff scoring record, and the Carolina Hurricanes pushed the top-seeded Boston Bruins to the brink of elimination, pulling away late for a 4-1 victory Friday night.
The Hurricanes lead the Eastern Conference semifinal series 3-1. Game 5 is Sunday night in Boston.
Jussi Jokinen scored the go-ahead goal at 2:52 of the third and assisted on the two goals that followed, and Sergei Samsonov added a goal for the Hurricanes.
Marc Savard scored for the Bruins, who have lost three straight since sweeping Montreal in the first round and winning the opener against Carolina.
If history is any guide, the Hurricanes can start making travel plans for either Pittsburgh or Washington.
They’ve taken 3-1 series leads twice before in franchise history and have advanced both times. Meanwhile, the Bruins haven’t won any of the 21 series in which they’ve faced such a deficit.
Jokinen delivered another late goal for Carolina — and this time, he left enough time to generate a couple of goals for his teammates, too.
The Finn capped a third-period burst that started when Anton Babchuk unloaded a slap shot from the left point. Rod Brind’Amour took a whack at it near the left post, and Jokinen swept it past Tim Thomas and into an open net to make it 2-1.
The Hurricanes have become used to go-ahead goals from Jokinen, who won Game 3 with an overtime tap-in two nights earlier. In the series before that, he won Game 4 against New Jersey with an off-the-skate score with 0.2 seconds remaining, then scored to start Carolina’s two-goals-in-80-seconds rally that beat the Devils in Game 7.
He then set up Samsonov for a backhander that made it a two-goal game with 5:29 left, and had one of the assists on Staal’s second goal 70 seconds later.
Jokinen weaved through several defenders and beat Thomas with a snap shot for his 40th career point in the playoffs, breaking the mark of 39 set by current associate head coach Ron Francis.
Cam Ward made 17 saves in improving his career playoff record to 22-12.
Thomas finished with 27 saves for the Bruins, who were out to prove they still had plenty of fight left in them after losing their previous two. David Krejci seemed to personify that, pancaking Jokinen in front of Thomas just 3 1/2 minutes in.
That collision drew a roughing minor that ultimately backfired on the Bruins: Moments after Ward stuffed P.J. Axelsson on a breakaway, Staal snapped a shot on net — Carolina’s first of the night — from the right circle, and it trickled past Thomas.
Not much else went Boston’s way early, with the Bruins sending nearly as many shots off the post (two) as on Ward (four). Phil Kessel and Zdeno Chara each rang the right post in the opening 9 1/2 minutes. Savard scored their only goal early with a wrist shot early in the second period.
Notes: Bruins RW Michael Ryder, who assisted on Savard’s goal, had a point for the first time since Game 1. He had nine points in Boston’s 5-0 start to the playoffs. … Boston dressed D Shane Hnidy for the first time in the series. He replaced D Andrew Ference (lower body injury). … D Tim Conboy was active for the first time in the series for Carolina, which dressed seven defensemen and scratched LW Ryan Bayda (flu).