RALEIGH, N.C. -- Erik Cole might be the only one who failed to appreciate the sheer beauty in his effort to tie the game.
There was Cole, one of the most dazzling players in the NHL, diving to the ice to block a rocket of a slap shot. And there was Cole, outracing everyone down the ice to corral the puck. He deftly held it on his stick until Boston goalie Tim Thomas got out of position, then he flipped it into the net.
"He got back to the bench, and I just looked at him and said, 'Wow,"' Carolina Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said.
"That's what we need to do, consistently get wins," Staal said. "We got it going at the right time."
"I thought we actually played a pretty good game," Bruins coach Dave Lewis said. "We had a strong game plan, I think it worked for us. You can see why they won the Stanley Cup, capitalizing on a couple of chances."
It was Boston's second loss to Carolina in barely more than a week. Unlike that one, a convincing 5-1 victory for the Hurricanes on Nov. 24, the rematch was tight for the first 40 minutes. The Bruins led 2-1 at the end of the first period before Cole tied it early in the second.
He deflected Stuart's shot to set up the play that turned around the game.
"I was right behind him, and when he went down, I thought it was a nice block," Staal said. "And then he got up and flew by two guys to get the puck, and then he made a great move at the net."
Cole simply shrugged off the superlatives, insisting he did nothing special.
"Once Stuart took a swing at the puck, he lost a step, and that helped me gain a step," Cole said. "Then when I got to the net, I just waited out the goalie."
That made it 2-2, and Williams gave Carolina the lead for good with the help of captain Rod Brind'Amour, the gritty center who seemingly never leaves the ice. With teammate Anton Babchuk in the penalty box, Brind'Amour intercepted a pass at the point and waited patiently for Williams to get behind the defense.
Once he did, Brind'Amour led him perfectly with the puck, and Williams did the rest for a 3-2 advantage. Staal and Whitney added insurance goals early in the third period for the Hurricanes, who begin a four-game road trip through the Western Conference Tuesday night in Calgary.
"They're a point-hungry team," Thomas said. "I'm not talking about points for the win. The end of the game there, they were all doing a little bit of cheating to get their point totals up, so they can get a bigger contract next time."
Staal's first goal came barely more than 2½ minutes following the opening faceoff, when he doggedly put back a rebound on his second try. Donovan evened the score for the Bruins with a deft move around the Carolina defense before beating Ward with a wrist shot.
Boston took its only lead when Stuart whacked the puck in following shots from Marco Sturm and Patrice Bergeron.
|Anton Babchuk, right, battles Boston's Andrew Alberts in a game that is closer than the final score. (AP)|
|Carolina (15-10-3) «||1||2||2||5|
Bruins 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals That's My Ticket Frame Shop Now!
|02:43||Eric Staal (15), Tip-In - Assists: Anton Babchuk, Kevyn Adams|
|14:15||Shean Donovan (2), Wrist Shot - Assists: Wayne Primeau, Mark Mowers|
|15:17||Brad Stuart (2), Tip-In - Assists: Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron|
|05:56||Erik Cole (11), Wrist Shot - Unassisted.|
|18:56||Short - Justin Williams (11), Wrist Shot - Assist: Rod Brind'Amour|
|06:10||Eric Staal (16), Tip-In - Assists: Scott Walker, Erik Cole|
|11:24||Ray Whitney (10), Wrist Shot - Assists: Rod Brind'Amour, Justin Williams|
|02:01||Donovan: Fighting - 5 min.|
|02:01||Ladd: Fighting - 5 min.|
|04:40||Babchuk: Roughing - 2 min.|
|04:40||Alberts: Roughing - 4 min.|
|07:14||Stuart: Holding - 2 min.|
|07:12||Adams: High sticking - 4 min.|
|12:26||Walker: Roughing - 2 min.|
|12:26||Alberts: Roughing - 2 min.|
|13:31||Sturm: Slashing - 2 min.|
|18:37||Babchuk: Delaying Game - 2 min.|
|00:35||Williams: High sticking - 2 min.|
|12:10||Adams: Holding - 2 min.|
|17:33||Jurcina: Hooking - 2 min.|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
|Attendance - 18639|
|Referees - Kevin Pollock, Craig Spada|
|Linesmen - Thor Nelson, Pierre Racicot|