Hurricanes push Bruins to brink of elimination
There's a reason the Carolina Hurricanes call Jussi Jokinen's line the "Finnish line." Because of him, the Boston Bruins are nearly finished.
Jokinen scored the go-ahead goal for the second straight game and added two assists, and the Hurricanes pushed the top-seeded Bruins to the brink of elimination by pulling away late for a 4-1 victory Friday night.
Eric Staal scored two goals to break the club career playoff scoring record, and Sergei Samsonov added a goal for the Hurricanes. They lead the Eastern Conference semifinal series 3-1. Game 5 is Sunday night in Boston.
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"We're going to keep getting them from (Jokinen) the rest of the way, too," Staal said. "It's still early. He's played phenomenal. He's really finding those areas and scoring key goals. You always have those guys in the playoffs, and he seems to be having that confidence."
Marc Savard scored for the Bruins, who have lost three straight since sweeping Montreal in the first round and winning the opener against Carolina.
"I think our team has probably picked the worst time of the year to play their worst hockey," coach Claude Julien said. "When you look at the whole team right now, there isn't anybody that has played up to their potential. ... You can see the frustration on the players right now, and it's certainly getting worse. This is something that has to be resolved before next game, and we don't have much time to do that."
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.
"We've got to be realistic. In being realistic, you've got to know that you can do it," goalie Tim Thomas said. "We can win three games in a row. How many times in the season did we do it? ... We still have a chance."
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 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.