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In overtime, Bruins again miss the point

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Bruins squandered a two-goal lead, received little from their top players, and wasted an outstanding performance by goaltender Andrew Raycroft last night, adding up to a 4-3 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center.

So far this season, Boston cannot find an answer to how to put teams away.

''[Raycroft] was holding them off as much as he could," said Bruin Brad Boyes, who had a goal and two assists. ''He played a great game. In close, they had numerous point-blank shots that he turned aside. Now we just have to find how to get that extra bounce and get these 2 points. It's very disappointing. These are points that we need. We're kind of bringing up the rear in our division and we're playing some great teams, and we're losing points we need to climb up and catch these teams."

Matt Cullen scored Carolina's first and last goals. The winner came with 1:36 left in the extra session. Cullen, off the rush, took a pass in the right circle and got by Bruins defenseman Nick Boynton just enough to be able to get a one-handed chop shot off from the slot that eluded Raycroft.

''Obviously, we're disappointed," said Bruins coach Mike Sullivan. ''We have to be better. I thought we were in complete control of the hockey game until they got the second goal late in the second period. We have to do a better job of controlling momentum."

The Bruins struggled out of the gate, once again parading to the penalty box for the first half of the opening period. Dave Scatchard was whistled for tripping only 1:43 in and Boynton followed him at 2:57 for hooking, which gave the Hurricanes a two-man advantage for 46 seconds. Raycroft made some extraordinary saves to keep Carolina off the board.

Carolina took a 1-0 lead on an even-strength tally by Cullen. He split the defensemen, charged down the slot, and lifted a shot over Raycroft at 9:24.

The Bruins pulled even on a power-play goal by Boyes. Patrice Bergeron, playing the right point, kept the puck in at the blue line and relayed it to Brian Leetch at the left point. Leetch teed up a slapper that Boyes tipped past netminder Martin Gerber at 11:21.

Boston took the lead early in the second period on a goal by Sergei Samsonov, who turns 27 today. With defenseman Bret Hedican off for tripping at 5:08, Boyes dished a pass to Scatchard in front. Scatchard got little on his shot from the right circle and the rebound bounced to Samsonov, who backhanded it past Gerber at 5:41. It gave the Bruins two goals on two power-play opportunities.

Leetch gave the Bruins some breathing room when he potted his third goal of the year, finishing a three-on-two break. Boyes picked up his third point of the night when he fed Leetch from the right circle and Leetch, rushing down the slot, redirected the feed high past Gerber at 10:20 to make it 3-1. But the momentum swung late in the period as the Hurricanes applied heavy pressure in the Boston zone.

Defenseman Frantisek Kaberle turned a Boston scoring threat into a Carolina goal at 16:34. Center Eric Staal made a nice move in the left circle, sidestepping a diving Leetch into the slot. His shot was stopped but Kaberle was there for the rebound.

Left wing Erik Cole brought the Hurricanes all the way back at 7:22 of the third. Staal drove to the net and got a shot off, as Raycroft made the initial save. But Cole, who was unimpeded outside the net, buried the rebound to make it 3-3.

Were it not for Raycroft, the Hurricanes likely would have put the game away late in the third because of Boston's penalty trouble and Carolina's energy. With 6:20 left, Raycroft robbed Staal on a backhander from the right circle, and he denied a strong chance by forward Kevyn Adams seconds later.

With a little more than three minutes left in overtime, Cole had a chance to end it when he charged through Boston's defense and went in alone on Raycroft, who stayed patient and stopped the shot with his right pad.

But he couldn't stop Cullen, and Boston now has one victory in its last five games, with Toronto on tap at home tonight.

''We've just got to get better as a team," said Leetch, ''at learning how to win."

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