BOSTON — In many ways, the Carolina Hurricanes' last game of the season mirrored much of their season.
There was a poor start, and some sudden, jolting adversity. There was a strong comeback, then a late push, only to fall just short.
In the end, and for the Canes it was to be the end, the Boston Bruins won 4-2 Saturday at the TD Garden. The Bruins, a part of so much NHL history, made a little more in clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
In a 64-second span early in the second period, the Bruins scored three short-handed goals on the same penalty. Daniel Paille had the first goal, then Blake Wheeler, then Steve Begin. Bam, bam, bam.
It was said to be an NHL first and gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead just 1:36 into the second. The Garden crowd was roaring and high-fives being exchanged all over the arena.
"I've never seen that," Canes coach Paul Maurice said of the three short-handed strikes. "Then it's hard to recover, to mentally shake it off and get back in it. But they fought their way back."
Erik Cole scored with 5:30 left in the second period for the Hurricanes. When Patrick Dwyer wristed a shot from the slot past goaltender Tuukka Rask with 2:54 to play in the second, it was 3-2.
"The guys did a good job of getting their bearings back and battling back," Cole said.
The Canes had 10 players in the lineup who spent part of the season with the Albany River Rats of the AHL. But it would be the young guys -- Jerome Samson, Drayson Bowman, Jamie McBain, Zach Boychuk and others -- whose spunk and energy helped push the Canes back into their final game.
The line of Dwyer, Bowman and Samson, who was called up from Albany on Friday, was active, fighting for the puck, controlling it, putting a combined 14 shots on goal.
"You never want to give up three quick goals like we did," Bowman said. "You start the period on the power play and you think you've got a chance to go up 1-0, and then that happens. It's unfortunate.
"But we kept fighting. I thought our line played pretty well. We were all over them, getting some chances."
The Bruins did take advantage of some errors by the Canes' young defensemen in the outburst of "shorties." Paille outskated McBain and Bryan Rodney to a loose puck in the Carolina zone, then beat Cam Ward 32 seconds into the period.
On Begin's goal, Dennis Wideman whipped a diagonal pass from the right circle in the Boston end to Begin breaking free up the right wing.
"Things got away from us on the back end," Maurice said.
Ward didn't help himself on the second goal. His pass up the boards was picked off by David Krejci, who fed Wheeler in the slot.
The Canes came inches from tying the score early in the third period. On a delayed penalty against Carolina, Rask came out of the net. But a poor Bruins pass sent the puck sliding toward an empty net before Patrice Bergeron skated in to collect it just before it crossed the goal line.
The Canes kept pressuring Rask but could not get a third goal. Milan Lucic scored an empty-netter with a minute left, and the Bruins soon were left to celebrate.
"That's kind of the way things went this year," Cole said. "It's disappointing."
For the record, the Hurricanes finished 35-37-10.
A year after playing in the Eastern Conference finals, they were undone by a 14-game winless streak early in the season, missed the playoffs and now face some tough personnel decisions.
"The direction is set with what we're going to do," Maurice said. "We're going to get a lot younger.
"I like it. Most importantly, I think they'll be fun to watch."
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