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Boston loses in Florida, 6-4

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
By Jeremy Lemoine

Sunrise, FLA - Despite a three-goal output in the first period, the Boston Bruins lost to the Florida Panthers 6-4 on Wednesday night. Brad Boyes had two goals and Brad Stuart had a career-high three assists, but the Bruins couldn't overcome a two-goal second period by the Panthers. Andrew Raycroft, who made his first start in four games, finished the night with 21 saves.

"Our power play had an opportunity to win the game for us tonight and it didn't, but having said that, I don't think it lost it for us either," said Coach Sullivan following the game. "We had a power play goal early in the first period, so for me, the biggest area was that we had opportunities late in shifts to get the puck out of our zone and we turned the puck over. We gave them a couple of real good opportunities that they converted on, but other than that, I thought our guys played real hard and dominated play."

The Bruins picked up where they left off from the night before, getting on the board first just 1:13 into the game. Marco Sturm connected on a give-and-go with Hal Gill for the 1-0 Bruins lead. Brad Stuart started the play by keeping the puck in at the blue-line and sending it in to Sturm to start the play.

Martin Gelinas responded for the Panthers 1:18 later, redirecting a pass from Jozef Stumpel at 2:31.

At 5:55, Brad Boyes picked up his eighth goal of the season on the power play to give the B's a 2-1 lead. Stuart wristed a shot from the point and Boyes was able to tip it past Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo for the goal.

Just nine seconds later though, Olli Jokinen tied the game at 2 by sliding the puck through Raycroft's legs on a breakaway.

Jokinen picked up his second goal of the game at 8:23 of the first period, sneaking one past Raycroft after Jay Bouwmeester's slap shot bounced hard off the back boards to the front of the net. The goal gave Florida a 3-2 lead.

The Bruins came back, knotting the game at 3-3 on a shorthanded goal by P.J. Axelsson. Axelsson raced down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Brad Stuart, beating Luongo five-hole for his seventh of the season. Brad Stuart picked up his third assist of the night on the goal.

Florida took a 4-3 lead at 12:54 of the second period on a Joe Nieuwendyk goal, his fifth of the season. With just 29 second left in the second period, Florida took a 5-3 lead on a goal by Chris Gratton. Raycroft made the initial save, but Gratton picked up the rebound and flipped it over Raycroft for his fourth of the season.

"They're a pretty good transition team and if you give probably 98% of the teams good chances, there are enough guys that can score," said Andrew Raycroft. "Nieuwendyk, Jokinen, you know those aren't third or fourth line guys getting the chances and that makes a difference too. We have to be aware of who's on the ice, and we have to be happy with our effort and happy with our ability to really stick with these games. We just have to stick with it."

Brad Boyes cut the deficit to one for the Bruins at 9:22 of the third period. Coming off the cycle, Brad Isbister picked up the puck from Patrice Bergeron and left it for Boyes in front of the net. He cashed it in for his second of the night and ninth of the season.

Gary Roberts sealed the victory for Florida at 19:27 of the third period with an empty net goal for the 6-4 final.

The Bruins next face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. (NESN), before coming home on January 2nd for a matinee game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
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