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Revived Bruins go for fourth straight against Panthers

by John McGourty
BRUINS (26-22-11) at PANTHERS (24-27-9)

Last 10 -- Boston 3-4-3; Florida 3-6-1

Season series --
This is the third meeting between the teams this season and each has won a road game against the other. They meet again April 1 in Boston. Cory Stillman scored in the fourth round of a shootout and Tomas Vokoun pitched his third shutout in four games in a 1-0 victory in Boston on Nov. 12. Vokoun had posted consecutive shutouts against the Bruins, but Panthers coach Peter DeBoer started Scott Clemmensen in a 2-1 defeat Dec. 27 in Florida. Vokoun has started every game for the Panthers since then.

Big story --
This is a meeting between two teams trending in opposite directions as well as two teams that took different approaches to serious losing streaks. The Bruins went 0-4-6 earlier this month but continued to talk about what they needed to do to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Meanwhile, they waited for injured players to return and didn't tinker with the roster. Florida lost five-straight games and traded away its top faceoff man and top-four penalty-killing forward, center Dominic Moore. General Manager Randy Sexton has promised to "retool" the roster.

Team Scope:

Bruins --
The Bruins may have righted their ship. They have won their past three games and gained at least a point in six of their last seven. Rookie Tuukka Rask has been outstanding. The Bruins' chances seemed dim after the 10-game winless streak, but they have bounced back into the playoff picture and can stay there through the Olympic break with a road win in Florida.

Panthers --
The Panthers have been outscored 16-4 during this five-game losing streak. They have tied a team record with 11-straight games of scoring two goals or less. Three of the five losses took place at home. Sexton traded Moore to Montreal Thursday for a draft pick. The Panthers are only six points out of a playoff spot but are heading in the wrong direction. Sexton also said no player is off-limits in trade talks, but Vokoun has a no-trade contract and another year left in the deal.

Who's hot --
Rask is 3-0-2 with a .942 save percentage in his past five games. Marc Savard has six points in four games. Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara have four points in four games. … Vokoun has never been better but his team can't score. He's 5-7-1 with a 1.77 GAA and .947 save percentage in his last 13 games.

Injury report --
Panthers forward Nathan Horton broke his leg in January and is out until early March. … Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart broke a finger in early February and is out until early March. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk suffered a broken orbital bone on Feb. 7 when hit by a shot and is out indefinitely.

Stat pack --
Vokoun is having a sensational season. He leads the NHL with a .930 save percentage and is 11th with a 2.37 GAA even though his team allows the most shots (34.1 per game) of any team in the League. As a result of Vokoun's play, the Panthers are only 18th in allowing 2.78 goals per game. They are 24th in penalty killing. Florida and Boston rank 21st and 22nd in goals-allowed in 5-on-5 play but Boston is much better on the power play than League-worst Florida and they are the best penalty-killing team.

Puck Drop --
Rostislav Olesz played an unusual role Thursday in a 3-0 home loss to the Vancouver Canucks and former Florida goalie Roberto Luongo. Olesz broke a finger Tuesday in the loss to Carolina and was expected to miss the final two games before the Olympic break. He dressed and didn't play, but served a bench minor to Florida for abusive language at 2:39 of the second period.

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