Bruins 2, Hurricanes 0
Posted April 21, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Boston's game has been patience all season. The Bruins won the waiting game again Thursday night in their playoff opener against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Unlikely scorers Rob DiMaio and Ken Belanger netted third-period goals as the Bruins defeated Carolina 2-0 in the Hurricane franchise's first NHL playoff game since 1992.
``You've got to wait for a team to break down, you've got to play physical and hard and then you've got to pounce on your opportunities,'' said Belanger.
DiMaio had seven goals during the regular season and Belanger had two, but the pair scored 5:47 apart to break a scoreless tie and give the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference series.
``You don't get too high after one win and you don't get too low after one loss,'' said Boston's Pat Burns, coaching in his 19th playoff series. ``It has always been that way. We just have make sure we keep our emotions in check and get ready for the next game.''
Meanwhile, Byron Dafoe, who led the league with 10 shutouts, stopped all 19 shots by the Southeast Conference champion Hurricanes.
``Our objective was to weather the storm, which we pretty much did,'' Dafoe said.
Carolina, which moved from Hartford two seasons ago, played most of its first playoff game in the state of North Carolina without veteran Ron Francis.
Francis, the team's hottest player in the second half of the season who appeared in all 82 games, injured his right ankle midway through the first period and skated only one shift from the second period on.
``If there is a point in this game where we're deflated at all is when we lost Ronnie,'' said Carolina captain Keith Primeau. ``He led our team in minutes played, so when you lose your leading guy, somebody has to step up there and play those minutes and it's a tough task.''
Carolina also went without playoff veteran Paul Coffey, who missed the game with a hamstring injury.
The teams combined for only 17 goals in the regular-season series that was even at 2-2-1, and this one went into the third period tied 0-0 as the hitting between the two teams was intense.
But Carolina center Jeff O'Neill, who had Carolina's best offensive chances all night, gave the puck away deep in the zone and the Bruins made the Hurricanes pay.
DiMaio stripped a falling O'Neill of the puck at the top of the right circle and beat Arturs Irbe up high 1:50 into the third. Belanger then got one by Irbe on a wraparound shot minutes later as Boston took command of the game.
``Robbie keeps his game simple and that's why he got a big goal for us,'' Burns said.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice said O'Neill lost control of the puck and was trying to get into a defensive posture when he fell down.
``It wasn't the prettiest of goals,'' Maurice said.
The Hurricanes dominated the early going, not allowing the Bruins a shot on goal for the opening nine minutes. Meanwhile, Primeau had a chance in close on Dafoe 25 seconds into the game and O'Neill missed a wraparound attempt six minutes later with Dafoe out of the net.
``A lot of teams try to run us out of the building and it hasn't worked all year long,'' Burns said. ``This is a team that is confident, a team that is patient. This isn't the first team to try this against us.''
O'Neill also had Carolina's other top scoring chance, but Dafoe made a sliding pad save on the young Carolina center midway through the second period to keep the game scoreless.
Francis, who won two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh in the early '90s and is the eighth leading scorer in NHL history, didn't miss a shift after Steve Heinze fell on his right leg behind the Carolina net midway through the first period. But he left the ice with 5:22 left in the period and skated only one shift in the second before retiring for the night.
X-rays of Francis' ankle were negative late Thursday night and he was scheduled for an MRI in Raleigh on Friday, a team official said.