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Blake Wheeler scores twice, Bruins win seventh straight

RALEIGH, N.C. - Another game. Another Boston Bruins victory.

Blake Wheeler scored twice in the second period, and Michael Ryder broke a tie with 6:14 left to help the surging Bruins win their seventh straight game, 4-2 over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.

"We just get key contributions from guys," said Boston centre Marc Savard, who had two assists. "When someone is not going, someone else steps up. Tonight it was Wheeler with two goals. That was big for us."

Chuck Kobasew added an empty-net goal for Eastern Conference-leading Boston.

Matt Cullen and Anton Babchuk scored for Carolina.

Carolina opened the scoring in the first period when Chad LaRose's shot deflected off Cullen's leg and past goalie Tim Thomas at 3:54.

Wheeler scored twice in a 3:41 span of the second to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. He tied it with a wrist shot against the grain as he skated through the slot, then scored off a scramble with goalie Cam Ward out of position.

Babchuk tied it at two midway through the second period, blasting a slapshot from the right point.

But Boston withstood Carolina's charge and slowly took over the game.

"I thought our first five or six minutes we were good," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Then for some reason we took our foot off the gas pedal and they started taking it to us. We found a way to win."

Ryder scored after a Carolina turnover in its own end. Savard stripped Rod Brind'Amour of the puck and started the play that led to the winning goal.

"Michael was there on the backside and he does what he does best, which is rip it home," Savard said. "It was a little awkward to make the pass but he was all alone over there. I did everything I could to get it to him."

Thomas stopped 29 shots en route to his 15th victory over the season.

"They pressured us and they pushed us, especially in the second period," Thomas said. "It was like we haven't been pushed in a long time. They kept us in our zone for a good portion. It, actually in the long run, could be good for us to get pushed by a team like this."

The Hurricanes had a 25-12 shot advantage through two periods but Boston clamped down in the final 20 minutes and held Carolina to only six more shots despite have three power plays.

"We did some good things but there's more to the way they beat us than 'they got a couple of lucky breaks,"' Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "We outplayed them overall and we can say we deserved to win, but we did things we've done fairly consistently probably all year. I happen to think this team is better than where we're sitting."

Notes: Boston C David Krejci extended his points streak to seven games. He has five goals and nine assists during the run. ... Ryder has scored the winning goal in two of the last three games for the Bruins. ... Carolina wore its alternate black uniform.


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