- Bruins net minder Hannu Toivonen sparkled, making 29 saves as Boston beat the Florida Panthers 4-1 before a crowd of 15,102 at the TD Banknorth Garden. Boston had a balanced scoring attack with four different players having a hand in each of the goals. Glen Murray scored the eventual game winner and Brad Boyes, Jiri Slegr, and Travis Green added the others. Sergei Samsonov chipped in with a pair of assists.
7:19 into the game, Brad Boyes started the action, dumping the puck into the Panthers zone with what looked to be a routine play. Shawn McEachern, with a burst of speed, stole the puck from Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. McEachern laid the puck out front to Boyes who fired it into the net. The goal was Brad Boyes' fourth of the season.
Not five minutes later, Sergei Samsonov made a pass to Joe Thornton behind the net. Thornton sat behind the net and waited as Samsonov crashed the front and Glen Murray drifted in from the right side. Thornton slid the puck over to Murray who one-timed it home for a 2-0 lead, his eighth goal of the season.
"(Crashing the net) is something we try to stay on our guys about all the time," said Coach Mike Sullivan. "The makeup of our team, we have a tendency to want to make the extra pass. Teams that put the puck at the net and go to the net get rewarded. It's the hardest area of the ice to defend and we want to force teams to defend us there."
Both teams skated to a scoreless tie in the second period. Boston edged Florida in the shots department with 11 shots to the visitor's 9. The second stanza saw both teams with scoring chances, but the goaltenders made the difference. It was also the most physical, with both teams taking a combined eight penalties.
Only 30 seconds into the third period, Boston scored the only power play goal of the night on a two-man advantage. Jiri Slegr and Patrice Bergeron
played pass at the point for a few seconds until Slegr sent the puck to Samsonov in the corner. Samsonov faked the pass to the front of the net and then quickly passed the puck back to Slegr for the one-timer that found the back of the net, putting the B's up 3-0.
"Tonight we just never stopped," said Patrice Bergeron
. "We played a solid 60-minutes of hockey and the results came. It's awesome for confidence and to get those two points."
Florida spoiled Toivonen's shutout bid after Joel Kwiatkowski took a pass from Niklas Hagman and scored his first goal of the season at 4:29.
Travis Green scored the empty-netter with 32 seconds left to seal the game for the hometown boys, 4-1. P.J. Axelsson and Nick Boynton were credited with the helpers.
Hannu Toivonen kept the Panthers from the comeback tonight, making 15 of his saves in the third period. He turned away strong bid after strong bid and extended his record to 3-1.
"Tonight was one of our best efforts of the year," said the rookie goaltender. "We defended well and waited for our chances and capitalized on them when they came. It was a solid effort of 60-minutes today."
Earlier in the day, Bruins' legend Ray Bourque was named as a consultant to Mike Sullivan's coaching staff. Bourque will help the coaching staff in the defensive and special teams department when the team is home practicing and playing. With more time now than when he retired, he is excited to help contribute to this young, talented squad.
"My daughter is a senior in college, my oldest son is in Hershey playing for the Caps farm team, my youngest son is away at prep school, and my wife has a beautiful spa that she's working on," explained Bourque. "That gives me plenty of time. When I retired, the most important thing was spending time with the kids and the family when they were around. Now, a lot of that has freed up and it gives me the time and opportunity to do this."
Thursday night was an enormous night for the Boston Bruins. They signed Ray Bourque as a consultant to the coaching staff and they got that all-important win. Next stop, Pittsburgh on Saturday at the TD Banknorth Garden, 7:00 p.m. (NESN).