– Entering Thursday night, the Bruins had presented a challenge over and over again for opponents. Going up against a slumping Florida Panthers team, they preached that they would not be overlooking their four-game winless streak.
And Captain Zdeno Chara reiterated that, even following the B's 4-1 win.
"There’s no easy game, especially at this time and in this league," said Big Zee. "Whoever you’re going to face, it doesn’t matter what the standings are looking like, but you want to make sure you approach every opponent with respect, but anything can happen, so we’ve just got to play our best every night."
In addition to having dropped four straight games, the Florida Panthers had entered Thursday night’s contest in Boston in a slump, having lost seven of their last eight. It would take a near perfect effort to step onto the TD Garden ice to come away with two points.
But Florida found itself a step behind the B’s all night, as the Bruins delivered the Panthers their fifth straight loss.
In all three frames—for the most part—the Bruins seemed to be one stride ahead of Florida.
“[Clemmensen] gave us a good game tonight, gave us a chance,” said Panthers alternate captain Brian Campbell in the post game. “But it’s hard to come from behind in these games, especially against a team like Boston.
“They know how to play with a lead. It’s not easy to come back on a team like that.”
Boston opened the scoring just under four minutes into the contest when the Panther couldn’t clear the puck out of their own zone. A David Krejci slap shot went wide of the net, but took a lively bounce on the boards, and found the stick of a rushing Zdeno Chara who one-timed the puck into the net.
Florida was unable to locate the puck, a Panther jumped into the shooting lane too late, and the one-step-ahead Bruins took advantage for the games first goal.
“I thought [Clemmensen] had a solid game in there tonight,” said Florida head coach Kevin Dineen. “He got a screen on that first one, a [defenseman] steps in front of him and the guy buries it top shelf.
It was a similar set of circumstances when the Bruins made it 2-0.
The play began in Boston’s zone. After the Bruins got the puck through center ice, Tyler Seguin dropped a pass to Brad Marchand, who skated the puck through the circles, and zipped a pass over to Patrice Bergeron who had an easy tap-in for tally number two. Again, the Panthers found themselves one step behind, with Campbell a shade behind Bergeron and unable to make a play.
“We knew it was going to be hard night and they did everything we expected them to do,” said Shawn Matthias, who scored Florida’s lone goal. “We tried to be a harder working team and I thought we did work hard and there’s positives in our game, yet the result isn’t what we want again.”
Matthias brought Florida within one after Bergeron’s tally on a great individual effort. With the Bruins on the power play, Matthias beat Dougie Hamilton to a loose puck, dangled around Tuukka Rask and slide the puck just inside the far post to cut the deficit to one.
“Yeah it’s a lucky goal,” Matthias said afterwards of one, though, lucky Tuukka Rask would like to have back. “It is what it is. The important thing is we got to get more of those, we got to bare down, and we got to start winning some games.
“You can’t score one goal and expect to win.”
Especially against a Bruins team that somehow found a way to win once again, despite what they collectively deemed "not their best game."
And that one was all the Panthers were able to muster, as Rask shut the door from then on out, putting in a 29 save performance en route to his NHL-leading 14th victory.
“They got a great team over there and he’s a great goaltender,” said Matthias.
"The first was what it was, but then the second was not our best. Anything can happen, and you just try to manage the damage there," said Rask following the win. "You don’t want to give up any easy goals or anything like that to get things going in the wrong direction even more. It’s kind of tough, but then again, that’s what they pay you for. You got to be the guy to keep your team’s chance to win the game."