RALEIGH, N.C. -- When your success is measured in wins and losses -- and you've lost 14 out of 15 -- it's not easy to keep believing.
It might seem silly to suggest the Carolina Hurricanes have kept the faith, but after their 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins at PNC Arena on Saturday, you could hear it in the players' voices.
The 1-13-1 skid that has cost them any realistic hope of making the playoffs left them all relieved -- and committed to the hard-working style that has left them feeling deserving of a better fate.
"It's (been) super frustrating because it just seems like nothing is happening for us," said Joe Corvo, whose broke open the game with a third-period, power-play blast.
For the past couple weeks, the Hurricanes have routinely started strong, often outshooting their opponents decisively in the first period. From there, Carolina's fortunes have often turned. The pucks haven't gone in, and opposition goals have often come in bunches, leaving the Hurricanes to deal with the seven-game losing streak that was snapped Saturday.
One exception to the trend came Monday, when Carolina goaltender Justin Peters was chased after giving up two goals on Boston's first four shots. That 6-2 loss left Peters searching for redemption.
"There was a little extra motivation for sure," said Peters, who stopped 28 shots. "I wanted to put forth a better effort for the boys because of how hard they've been working, and how good the atmosphere has been in here. It's nice to get a result for the team."
While Peters needed a steady performance, he turned a spectacular moment in the second period. With the score tied 1-1 and the Bruins on a 5-on-3 power play, Jaromir Jagr took a pass from David Krejci across the goal mouth for what appeared to be a certain go-ahead goal. He lifted a wrister toward an open net, only to have Peters sprawl to his left to glove the shot.
"That's a No. 1 highlight-reel save there, at a key time in the game," Corvo said.
His coach was equally impressed.
"I'm sure he will get a few call from his friends on that one," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "That save on the 5-on-3 was a big time play for us. He let that first one in early, and he kept his mental toughness and got the job done. He played great for us."
Boston defenseman Matt Bartkowski put the Bruins up 1-0 in the first period with his first NHL goal, a shot that went through a Milan Lucic screen. Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner answered in the final minute of the period with a shot he banked off the back side of Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask.
The Hurricanes gained momentum from killing off Boston's two-man advantage in the second period, and Jiri Tlusty staked them to a lead a few minutes later. Then Tyler Seguin tied the game, beating Peters on a breakaway.
That provided the backdrop for Corvo's go-ahead goal, a snap shot on the receiving end of a nice pass from Marc-Andre Bergeron. During most nights of the Hurricanes' slide, that tie-breaking goal would have gone to the opponent. This time, there was relief all around.
"I'm happy for the guys," Muller said. "They've been playing like that for a while. They stuck with it. They played an energized game against a good hockey club and finally got some reward from it."
Like Corvo, it was apparent in Tlusty's voice that this win was a relief.
"Whoever saw the game games the past two weeks, they know we tried hard every single night," said Tlusty, who added an empty-net goal to establish a career high with 19 goals. "It was a tough stretch. Tonight we came out again hard. We tried to play our style, play for each other. Everyone brought their A game."
Defenseman Jay Harrison, who made a pair of nice plays to break up two of Jagr's 13 attempted shots, was adamant about representing his team's positive attitude in recent weeks.
"The standings don't matter," said Harrison, whose fight with Zdeno Chara was one of three in the first period. "Every game, regardless of where we are, it's about the pride. We're putting on a jersey with our name on the back, and more importantly with a crest on the front that we're playing for. Every game, we're going out and playing to win.
"We had a lot of things to feel good about, but we couldn't totally feel good about ourselves without getting the win. Tonight, it was a complete effort with the win. That's where the sigh of relief comes , because it's been such a long time coming."
The Bruins’ loss came with a temporary cost. They could have clinched a playoff berth with one point. Despite holding down the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, Boston coach Claude Julien is looking for something more from his team after losing two in a row.
"We're starting to turn that corner," said Julien, whose team falls to 26-11-4. "I think it will get better. We have another two weeks here and this is where it has to happen. I sense some things coming around. We've just got to push in the areas that we have to improve and we'll be OK."
For at least one night, Carolina gets to walk away feeling better. At 17-22-2, the Hurricanes are playing mostly for their identity as the final weeks tick off the schedule. That small step is just fine with the coach.
"I think it's just the message back to our own guys: We're in this together, we're going to get out of it together," Muller said.
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