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Bruins keep streak going against Panthers

by Brian Hunter /
Look out, Eastern Conference. There isn't a hotter team right now than the Boston Bruins.

Playing at home on a Friday night for the first time in almost 31 years, Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron got the TD Banknorth Garden crowd going with a goal and an assist each, and the Bruins doubled up the Florida Panthers 4-2 for their seventh straight home win.

Tim Thomas stopped 30 shots and Phil Kessel and David Krejci also scored for Boston, which improved to 11-1-1 in its last 13 games and moved into a first-place tie in the East with the idle New York Rangers at 30 points.

"We were pretty good from the get-go," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I thought we respected this team a lot, we were ready for them, and I thought we did a good job."

There was good reason for the Bruins to respect the Panthers. Florida is one of only two teams — Minnesota the other — with a winning record lifetime in Boston.

David Booth and Ville Peltonen had goals for the Panthers, who but they lost for the second time in as many nights, following a 3-1 defeat in New Jersey on Thursday.

"It's been a tough few weeks," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "A team like (Boston), they'll sting you. You make one mistake and it's in the net."

A couple of players on personal hot streaks helped get the Bruins going as Savard and Kessel teamed up for the game's opening goal. Savard, who has 11 points in his last five games, sent Kessel in alone for his 10th of the season at 2:46. Kessel scored for the third consecutive game.

Booth, also on top of his game lately, responded for the Panthers at 8:01 with his sixth goal in the last nine games. Booth's ninth of the season required a video review — it was initially ruled no goal after he beat Thomas on a breakaway.

Bergeron put the Bruins ahead to stay just 2:01 later, tipping Matt Hunwick's shot past Tomas Vokoun for his fourth of the season and first in eight games.

"You can't spot a team like that a couple of goals," Vokoun said.

Krejci and Savard increased Boston's lead to 4-1 by scoring 1:43 apart in the second period. The Bruins took 35 shots on Vokoun over the first two periods before managing only four over the final 20 minutes, which featured Peltonen's first goal with 3:06 left to close the scoring.

"In the third period, 4-1 lead, we kind of tried to protect the lead and did a decent job, but got a little soft at times and it ended up costing us a goal," Julien said. "But overall it was a good win for us, especially with back-to-back games. We tried to roll our four lines as much as we could."

Boston, currently in a stretch of 10 games in 18 nights, travels to Montreal on Saturday. Not only will it be a Hockey Night In Canada game between Northeast Division rivals, but the spectacle of Patrick Roy's No. 33 being lifted to the rafters at Bell Centre is sure to create an extra frenzy among the fans.

The Bruins just want to keep playing strong hockey. They currently lead the East in goals scored (66) and fewest goals allowed (47).
"One of the things they preached at the start of the season was positioning," defenseman Aaron Ward said. "Teams that position themselves well by Thanksgiving have a tendency to really put themselves in good position at the end of the year."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.

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