By John Bishop, BostonBruins.com
The Boston Bruins traveled to Sunrise, Florida on Friday evening to face Eastern Conference foes, the Florida Panthers.
It was the first game of the National Hockey League regular season for both clubs and the first of five straight road games for the Bruins.
However exciting it may have been for various members of both staffs and rosters prior to the contest, it was 2-0 Florida very early in the first period, as two power play goals for the Panthers put Boston in an early hole on their opening night.
And, unfortunately for Bruins fans, the early scoring set the pace for a very long game for our local squad.
Todd Bertuzzi, one big off-season pick up for the Florida, scored at 6:33 first period, with assists going to Gary Roberts and Ruslan Salei.
Salei and former Bruin Jozef Stumpel then assisted on Mike Van Ryn's first of the season at 7:16.
Thankfully, the Bruins big signings in July also paid immediate dividends, as Marc Savard
and Zdeno Chara
both assisted on the first Boston goal of the season -- a power play goal for Marco Sturm at 8:07 of the first period.
But Juraj Kolnik scored late in the period to put Florida up 3-1 off an assist by Jay Bouwmeester at 18:29.
Glen Murray led the Bruin charge out of the locker room at the start of the second period and he scored just 29 seconds into the stanza with help from Sturm and Chara.
Boston carried the play early on in the second period and continued to pour shots on Panther's goaltender Alex Auld.
Auld, another major off-season pick up for the Panthers, stopped shot after shot, frustrated the Bruins and finished with 34 saves on 37 Boston shots.
Almost halfway through the second period, the Panthers stole the puck at the Boston blue line. This lead to a Joe Nieuwendyk goal at 9:01. Assists went to Bertuzzi and Rostislav Olesz, and the goal put the Panthers up 4-2.
Despite the first Nieuwendyk goal, Tim Thomas
' 23 saves had kept Boston close going into the 3rd period.
But Nieuwendyk scored again at 1:23 of the third period (assisted by Rostislav Olesz and Bertuzzi), and the highlight reel stayed focused on the Panthers the rest of the way.Nathan Horton
then scored a power play goal (from Bertuzzi, Bouwmeester) at 6:34 and Chris Gratton (assisted by Horton) scored at 8:21 to chase Thomas, who finished with 27 saves.
"The second goal was a weak goal and it put us back on our heels," said Thomas after the game. "I pride myself on being pretty stable and steady…I think this was pretty much the first time since I have been in a Bruin uniform that I haven't held up my end of the bargain."
The frustrations mounted for the Bruins, but a surprising third period highlight came from Yan Stastny.
Stastny, who objected to a hit from Panthers defenseman Bryan Allen, took on the much larger skater with his fists in a short lived bout.
Chara, who realized there was a mismatch in the works, stood up for his teammate, muffled the fight, and ended up in the box for his trouble.
Olli Jokinen scored his first goal of the season at 15:04 versus Hannu Toivonen, then in goal for relief. It was a power play goal, assisted by Gary Roberts and Stumpel.
Boston's Wayne Primeau closed out the scoring at 19:06 with an unassisted marker.
"There were a lot of issues," said Bruins Head Coach Dave Lewis. "But I am not going to let one month of hard work by everybody involved in this organization [be judged] by this game. It's not acceptable some of the things we did, and we have to correct it…starting right now.
"Certainly nobody likes to be involved in a game like that…It's embarrassing for everybody, but we're not going to let this discourage us. We need to prepare now to get ready for the next game."
"Now it's over and we've got to learn from it," said Assistant Captain Patrice Bergeron
. "Obviously we have a big game tomorrow…the mindset is to be ready for [that] one, and don't think about what happened today.
"We have to be a lot better in all aspects of the game," said Bergeron.
Boston next plays on Saturday night versus the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7 pm.