Brad Marchand registered his first NHL hat trick and 14 different players recorded at least one point Friday night in the Bruins' sixth straight victory, an 8-0 runaway at the TD Garden.
"I never even thought I would ever get one of those in this League," said Marchand, who recalled his last hat trick came in junior.
The Bruins improved to 20-2-1 in their last 23 games and they have outscored their opponents 30-7 during their six-game winning streak.
"We're feeling good about ourselves," said center Patrice Bergeron, who had a goal and two assists in the win. "We're confident, but ... we always said it before, we can't be satisfied. It's something that's very important, and we talked about the fact that tonight was, with the holiday starting tomorrow, a huge game, and we had to bear down. We did that, and now we have a couple days to rest and make sure we're ready for the second half of the season, because it's going to get tougher."
The Panthers got into Boston late Thursday night after an overtime loss in Ottawa and started the night short seven forwards due to injury. Boston jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period, including two goals in 31 seconds late in the period, and never looked back.
"That's an old-fashioned butt kicking," said Florida coach Kevin Dineen, whose team failed to pick up a point in the standings for just the third time in its last 11 games. "There's nothing to say. I got nothing tonight. I have nothing to say. I'm always the 'glass half-full' type of guy; tonight there's nothing, from our goaltenders to our defense. We were very porous, and we didn't generate any offense. We got our tails handed to us, there's no excuse, I got nothing.
Tuukka Rask made sure the Bruins' first eight-goal outburst of the season stood up with 30 saves to earn his fourth straight win and his second straight shutout. He now has a shutout streak of 155 minutes, 10 seconds and is 7-1-1 in his last nine starts, despite playing sparingly behind reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas.
"I don't know. I've felt pretty good the whole time," Rask said. "I try to feel good, try to get that good feeling from practice every time but it's tough to judge that. But we're definitely both playing really well and the whole team's playing well in front of us so it could be one of the best times, yeah."
Pouliot scored the goal of the night and maybe the season with an end-to-end rush. After he made a move to the inside to get around defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, he put the puck between his first to get it to his back hand and then beat Theodore inside the right post for his seventh score of the season.
"I had a good jump off the draw and the puck kind of went right to me," Pouliot said. "I think the defense was kind of thinking I would go wide, and that's what I was thinking too because I had good speed right off the bat. And right when I got there I kind of faked him out a little bit and brought it back to the net a little and it went in. I don't know, I was just trying to put the puck on net."
With Scott Clemmensen on in relief of Theodore, Gregory Campbell scored 3:50 into the second period to crush any thoughts Florida had of mounting a comeback. Bergeron added a second-period score before Marchand scored twice in the third period. The 8-0 result was a far cry from Florida's 2-0 win (with an empty-net goal) in their last visit on Dec. 8.
"I just think as a team we were a lot more engaged in that game, but this game we stood around and watched them make plays, pretty much," Florida defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. "Our goalie was great that game and now we're in here and found a way to get two points but it just wasn't our night from the back end, the goalies to the forwards."
That loss to the Panthers, who still lead the Southeast Division, might have helped the Bruins avoid looking past Florida to the two-day Christmas break this weekend.
"They're a great club and they have a lot of firepower over there. I think we had a little bit of revenge on the mind after what happened last time when they came here and shut us out in our own building, especially when we were pretty hot at the time," Marchand said. "So, the guys were all very excited for this game and everyone did a great job of getting up for it."