By BOB SUTTON Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Sebastian Aho scored a goal for the fourth straight game and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Sunday in a matchup of the teams with the two best records in the NHL.
Paul Stastny scored on a second-period power play, Seth Jarvis posted a goal in the third, and Jordan Staal added a short-handed empty-netter as the Hurricanes won their fifth game in a row and extended their points streak to eight games (7-0-1).
“We know that team was the cream of the crop,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “They’re lapping everyone right now and I think it was a good test.”
Frederik Andersen, playing for the first time since he left Wednesday night’s game in Dallas with an upper-body injury, made 24 saves.
Pavel Zacha scored for the Bruins, who lead the NHL with 81 points but have lost three games in a row for the first time this season. Linus Ullmark stopped 32 shots.
“There’s a reason why they’re at the top of the standings,” Aho said. “So we needed to bring our best.”
With Saturday’s overtime loss at Florida, the Bruins suffered consecutive losses for the first time this season. So this turned out to be an unusual weekend.
“On a back-to-back like this, you have to rely on your goaltender to make enough saves and unfortunately I didn’t do that,” Ullmark said.
Boston was a season-worst 0 for 6 on power plays, now failing to score with man advantages in its past three games.
Aho stole the puck at his defensive blue line took off on a breakaway for his 21st goal of the season with 9:08 left in the first. He has seven goals during his scoring streak.
“He seems to have picked that step up again,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s playing at a high level, that’s for sure.”
After Carolina’s four successful penalty kills through 30½ minutes, the Hurricanes scored on a power play as Stastny converted from in front of the net with 7:55 left in the second. It was his fourth.
Jarvis made a nifty move along the boards to gain control of the puck from Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo and sped into the zone on a breakaway, beating Ullmark at 1:56 of the third for his eighth of the season and first in seven games.
“They are good at pressuring you everywhere. Their checking led to turnovers,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “We didn’t generate chances.”
Boston struck back on Zacha’s 10th at 3:22, but failed to reach two goals for just the third time this season.
“They play a simple, straight-forward hockey that works for them,” Ullmark said. “You’ve got to be honest with yourself and bring your best. That’s what everybody does to us right now.”
Staal capped the scoring with 4:20 left.
Andersen has won in his last five decisions, giving him a 10-3-0 record.
“I don’t think we really gave up a ton,” Brind’Amour said. “He was good when he had to be.”
The Hurricanes have three goalies – also Antti Raanta (12-2-3) and Pyotr Kochetkov (10-4-0) – with 10-plus wins. It’s only the 14th time in NHL history that a team has three goalies with double-digit victories in the same season. Carolina has played 49 games this season.
Hurricanes D Brent Burns had an assist on Stastny’s goal in his 1,300th NHL game. … This was just the second regulation road loss in Boston’s last 13 road games (9-2-2). … Staal has 13 goals, but only three since Christmas.
Bruins: At Toronto on Wednesday night.
Hurricanes: Host Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
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