Bruins Clinch First Series in Five Years
By Howard Ulman
BOSTON The Boston Bruins won their first playoff series in five years Sunday night, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 behind the goaltending of NHL shutout leader Byron Dafoe.
Joe Thornton and Anson Carter scored as the Bruins completed their comeback from a 2-1 deficit by winning their third straight game and taking the best-of-7 Eastern Conference quarterfinal 4-2.
Two of those wins came at home, where the Bruins had won just one of their previous 12 playoff games. Their second-round opponent depends on the outcome of other Eastern Conference series.
Dafoe notched his second playoff shutout after getting 10 in the regular season, both league highs. He was at his best in the second period when Carolina outshot Boston 16-3. The Hurricanes had just four shots in the third period.
The Bruins won the first and last games 2-0, gaining their first series victory since beating Montreal in the first round in 1994.
Their losing streak started in the next round. In the last four seasons, they were eliminated in the first round three times and failed to qualify for the playoffs once.
Carolina, in its second season since moving from Hartford, continued the Whalers playoff futility. The franchise failed to reach the playoffs the past six years and was knocked out in the first round in each of the previous six. It is winless in its last eight playoff series since beating Quebec in the first round in 1986.
Boston had overcome deficits of 1-0 and 2-0 in winning Games 4 and 5. It never trailed in Game 6.
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead on Thornton's power-play goal at 8:58 of the first period. Jason Allison passed the puck from behind the net to Dmitri Khristich, who slid it across the slot where Thornton pushed it under goalie Arturs Irbe. Allison, the only player to score in each game, had six assists in the series.
Boston made it 2-0 at 8:13 of the second period on a goal by Carter, who had scored at 14:45 of the second overtime Friday night to give the Bruins a 4-3 win in Game 5 at Carolina.
This time, Carter carried the puck out of his own zone and past the Carolina blue line. He gave it to Steve Heinze in the left circle, then took a return pass in the slot and shot the puck by Irbe.
Carolina dominated the attack in the period but couldn't beat Dafoe.
One shot that went wide of the net may have been the Hurricanes' best chance as Robert Kron missed with the entire right side of the goal open.
The Hurricanes missed another scoring opportunity when Dafoe, lying on his back made a kick save of Gary Roberts' shot at 7:32 of the second period.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press