Skip to main content

Bruins ride top line to win against Thomas, Panthers

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- The line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith combined for nine points in the Boston Bruins' road win against the New York Islanders on Monday night.

At home against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, it was the line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla that dominated.

Lucic scored two goals, Krejci had a three-point night, and the line combined for seven points. The Bruins reached six goals for the third straight game and won for the fourth time in a row, defeating the Panthers 6-2.

Krejci had one goal and two assists, and Iginla had two assists. Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for the Bruins, who are 5-0-1 in their past six home games and in their past six games overall dating to a road win against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 16.

"You just wanted to kind of keep this good feeling going," Lucic said. "We kind of talked about turning things around starting on the road trip, the mini road trip in Dallas [and Chicago] there. And it seems like our game is definitely moving in the right direction.

"I think the biggest thing is, we can't get complacent or even bored of playing the right way. And you saw that in the second period there, where we had a lull and we kind of started to cheat and get away from what's given us success of late. But we got back to it in the third period, and we're going to need that going forward."

The loss snapped the Panthers' three-game road winning streak and ruined Tim Thomas' return to Boston.

The Bruins outshot the Panthers 29-20 through the first two periods of Thomas' first game at TD Garden since he was with Boston in 2011-12. He finished with 35 saves on 41 shots.

Despite being under contract, Thomas took last season off, and the Bruins traded his rights to the New York Islanders. The 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner from Boston's Stanley Cup championship signed with Florida as a free agent this offseason.

"I felt very comfortable being in this building and stuff," said Thomas, whose previous season-high for goals allowed was five. "For me, I feel comfortable. Obviously, I didn't feel as comfortable when they started getting 19 shots in the first period and a couple of goals going in, but I felt comfortable coming into the game.

"I actually felt very comfortable at the beginning of the game. And then all of a sudden the first goal kind of gets you on your heels; a turnover there and then ... kind of misplay by me on the second goal there. Knuckle puck from Zdeno [Chara] where I tried to reach around and grab it and it went off my glove. That wasn't a good sign."

The Bruins (34-15-3) scored first when Lucic snapped a four-game goal drought at 7:41 of the first period. Iginla nearly turned over the puck at the blue line, but Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau passed it back to Iginla for a shot Thomas stopped. Lucic cleaned up the rebound for a 1-0 lead.

The Bruins took a 2-0 lead at 15:26, when Chara's one-timer from the right point deflected in front then went into the net off Thomas' head. Thomas had moved a few inches out of the crease to try to challenge Lucic. Chara ran his goal streak to three games (four goals).

Lucic scored his second goal on a rebound of a Matt Bartkowski shot from the point. Lucic hacked at the rebound and it eluded Thomas at 1:46 for a 3-0 lead. Reilly Smith's power-play goal at 14:54 gave the Bruins a 4-0 cushion.

"We score five, six goals a game, you kind of expect to win," Rask said. "I know it's not going to happen every game, but it's good to have that offense going like that. We've been scoring goals because we play our system, not because we're trying to do too much out there, and that's a great sign."

Florida (21-25-7) scored with 32.9 seconds remaining in the second period. Brad Boyes cashed in on the back end of a 3-on-3 with a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle to cut Boston's lead to 4-1.

Dmitry Kulikov's power-play goal at 4:00 of the third period trimmed the margin to 4-2. It also helped the Panthers' avoid a near-record power-play drought. Florida hadn't scored a power-play goal in its prior 13 games, and without Kulikov's score would've tied the 1997-98 Toronto Maple Leafs, who went 14 games without a man-advantage goal, for the longest such slump since expansion (1967-68), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Panthers had been 0-for-41 prior to the goal.

"It gives you a little something to work with," Florida coach Peter Horachek said. "There's some success from some of the things you tried to do and some traffic. That is overshadowed by the rest of the game, it's just disappointing."

Shawn Thornton stalled the Panthers' comeback hopes with a goal at 8:14 of the third. He dangled out of the corner and roofed a backhand shot from the slot for a 5-2 Boston edge.

The Bruins continue their homestand Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens. The Panthers, two games into a four-game road trip, play the Toronto Maple Leafs.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.