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Hurricanes-Bruins Preview

AP - Sports

The Boston Bruins admittedly "slipped" in January following a remarkable two-month run.

A game against the Eastern Conference-worst Carolina Hurricanes doesn't guarantee the defending Stanley Cup champions can start February on a positive note.

Boston tries to prevent Carolina's first season sweep in this series Thursday night when these clubs meet at TD Garden.

After posting a 21-3-1 record from Nov. 1 through the end of December, the Bruins went 8-4-1 last month following Tuesday's 4-3 victory over Ottawa. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg capped off Boston's late three-goal rally with a third-period score from the center line.

"We'll take it," coach Claude Julien told the Bruins' official website.

There's no question the Bruins (32-14-2) will as they're chasing the New York Rangers for the top spot in the East. Boston has alternated wins and losses in its last nine contests.

"Yeah things have slipped," center Gregory Campbell said. "It's no secret in here.

"We just have to play our game like we did in November and December and that's the formula that brings success for us. There are ups and downs in the season, but you can't use that as an excuse. Good teams find a way to be consistent and that's our issue right now."

The Bruins, though, are 15-2-2 on home ice since the end of October, while the Hurricanes (18-25-9) have dropped 17 of 20 on the road since a 4-1 victory over Boston on Oct. 18.

Carolina coach Kirk Muller knows his team will have to play a more well-rounded game than in Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders if it is going to leave Boston with another win.

Playing their first game following the All-Star break, the Hurricanes trailed 2-0 before Brandon Sutter and Tim Brent - the team leader with three assists against Boston this season - netted back-to-back goals in the opening 6:55 of the third period.

"Going into Boston tomorrow night, we can't have a slow start, we've got to be ready for a good team at home," Muller said.

Carolina took both matchups at home against the Bruins this season, winning 4-2 on Jan. 14 by scoring the last three goals of the game.

Boston had won 11 of 13 in this series heading into 2011-12.

"They play hard," said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, who is eligible to return following a three-game suspension. "... They've been able to feel good about their game in the past three."

It's uncertain if the Hurricanes will face All-Star goaltender Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask.

Thomas, who made 30 saves Tuesday in his first home start since skipping the team's White House visit last month, is 0-2-0 with a 3.07 goals-against average versus Carolina this season, with both starts coming on the road.

Rask is 8-0-2 with a 1.46 GAA in 10 home starts since losing to the Hurricanes on Oct. 18.

Carolina's Cam Ward has turned aside 92 of 97 shots versus Boston in 2011-12.

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