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Florida Not a Fluke

by John Griffin / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- The Florida Panthers have surprised the whole NHL with their impressive push forward in the Eastern Conference, but with a 2-0 victory over the B’s on Thursday night, the Panthers showed their early season success is no fluke.

“They are just a different team than we have seen in the past,” said Bruins forward Gregory Campbell, a former Panther.

Former Bruin Marco Sturm is out to prove that to the B’s and the rest of the league.

“We want to prove to everyone we are for real and we did that tonight,” he said.

Sturm’s fellow forward Tomas Kopecky agreed.

“We try to prove those people who never believed in us [wrong], and so far we’re doing, I think, a good job,” added Kopecky, who snapped a 0-0 tie with just 2:32 left to go in regulation.

Countering a tough final 6-on-5 surge with an empty net goal against the league’s hottest team showed the Panthers a lot about their character.

“We were working really hard, and that says something about the team,” added Kopecky.

Kopecky and the Panthers fought until the buzzer to make sure they gave Jose Theodore the shutout they thought he deserved.
“We played for Theo the last few minutes,” said the forward of the Florida goalie.

“Goaltending was stellar tonight,” said Head Coach Kevin Dineen. “It was really impressive. We made numerous quality saves.”

“He made some unbelievable saves and he kept us in the game,” added Sturm.

Theodore had seen plenty of the Bruins with his time on the Montreal Canadiens. Coming into Thursday night’s contest he knew what he needed to bring to the TD Garden.

“They’re always one of the best teams in the league,” said the Florida netminder. “When you play against the best you want to raise your game.”

The Panthers goalie did just that as he stopped a total of 40 Boston shots and once again proved to be the backbone of the Southeast Division team that is finding a groove thus far in their 2011-2012 campaign.

“It’s a big confidence booster for us,” said Kopecky. “We’ve got to keep it going.”

With their third straight win, the Panthers moved ahead of the B’s into second place in the Eastern conference.

Although last year many would not have expected it, on December 23rd the two teams will meet again for a much more anticipated match-up than ever before.
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