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Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers @NHL
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GAME: Boston Bruins (2-2-0) at Florida Panthers (3-1-0).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EDT.

The Boston Bruins will likely be without center and captain Joe Thornton when they take on the Florida Panthers in the fourth game of their six-game road trip.

Thornton returned to Boston on Wednesday to get treatment for back spasms and is listed as day-to-day. He missed the final five minutes of the Bruins' 4-2 win Monday night over Tampa Bay.

The top overall pick in the 1997 draft, Thornton finished with 23 goals, including six game-winners, and 50 assists in 77 games in 2003-04. He has just four assists in four games this season.

Nearly a quarter of Boston's offense has come from veteran Glen Murray, who leads the team with three goals and five points. Murray has 10 goals and 15 assists in 31 career games against Florida.

Boston is 2-1 on the road trip, which concludes with matchups against Northeast Division rivals Ottawa and Montreal.

Florida boasts the league's stingiest defense having allowed just three goals in four games. Goaltender Roberto Luongo made 29 saves, including one on a penalty shot, as the Panthers defeated the New York Islanders 3-1 on Monday.

Luongo, the reigning defensive player of the week, has stopped 119 of 122 shots this season.

"Everybody believes in him, he believes in himself. As long as you play hard defensively, he's going to make a majority of the saves," Florida forward Joe Nieuwendyk said. "I didn't realize how good Louie was until I got here."

Luongo, selected by the Islanders three picks after the Bruins tabbed Thornton, is 4-4-1 in his career against Boston at TD Banknorth Garden. He has allowed just one goal in his last two games there, both wins.

STANDINGS (through Oct. 11): Bruins - 4 points, 1st place (tied), Northeast Division. Panthers - 6 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Murray, 3 goals and 5 points; Thornton, 4 assists; Jiri Slegr, 10 PIM. Panthers - Eight with 1 goal; Olli Jokinen, 3 assists and 4 points; Branislav Mezei, 21 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 11): Bruins - Power play: 12.5 percent (3 for 24), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent (22 for 27), 20th. Panthers - Power play: 8.8 percent (3 for 34), 26th. Penalty killing: 93.1 percent (27 for 29), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Andrew Raycroft (1-2-0, 0 SO, 2.67 GAA); Hannu Toivonen (1-0-0, 0, 5.90). Panthers - Roberto Luongo (3-1-0, 2, 0.76); Jamie McLennan (no appearances).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 2-1-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 23, 2004; Panthers, 2-0. At Boston, Luongo made 38 saves and Darcy Hordichuk and Andreas Lilja scored for Florida.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bruins - 0-2-0 on the road; Panthers - 2-0-0 at home.

Associated Press
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