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5 Takeaways: Panthers Top Bruins Behind Reimer's B-Day Shutout

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop /

3/15/18 Post Game Interviews

3/15/18 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Bob Boughner, Aleksander Barkov and James Reimer

  • 01:12 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - Happy birthday, James Reimer!

The Florida Panthers backup netminder celebrated his 30th birthday in style on Thursday night at BB&T Center, making 46 saves to earn his third shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over the Boston Bruins.

"If that's what happens on my birthday, I'll take it every day," Reimer said.

After slow starts in each of their last three games, the Panthers got off on the right foot against the Bruins on Thursday, with Aaron Ekblad and Nick Bjugstad scoring first period goals to give Reimer all the goal support he would need.

"We had a pretty good start," Panthers center Aleksander Barkov said. "We got two goals right away and had a good offensive game in their zone, getting a lot of chances and putting pucks on net. That's how you need to start every game."

Vincent Trocheck put the Panthers up 3-0 with an insurance goal at 14:07 of the third period, adding an exclamation point to the first of four meetings Florida will have with Boston down the home stretch.

With 14 games left, the Panthers (35-26-7) trail Columbus by four points and New Jersey by three points for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with multiple games in hand on both clubs.

After an unfortunate loss against Ottawa on Monday, a win against Boston has put the Panthers right back into the thick of the playoff race and in complete control of their own destiny if they can take advantage of their games in hand.

"With the time that's left in the season, we couldn't afford to lose two in a row," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "We know we're going on the road next week for some important games as well. It was really important to get back into the winning column and collect two points and keep marching our way up the standing board."

Here are five takeaways from Thursday's win in Sunrise…


In his first start since March 2, Reimer was exceptional in his return to the net. The 30-year-old goaltender stopped all 46 shots to he faced on Thursday, including a few highlight-reel saves.

"I think everyone earned it," Reimer said of the shutout. "There were a couple where they were tipping pucks and they were coming through and I think a couple got pulled out from behind me by my d-men. Shutouts, like I said before, are a team effort."

Reimer's biggest save of the night came in the first period, when the the backup netminder sprawled out to stone forward Matt Grzelcyk, who was driving hard to the net on a partial 2-on-1 break, to keep the Panthers ahead 2-0.

After helping keep Florida's playoff hopes alive during a two-month stretch when Roberto Luongo was out of the lineup, Reimer has settled back into his backup role, winning four of his last five starts in relief. He is expected to see more action down the stretch, as the Panthers have four back-to-back sets remaining.

"I think it was a prefect game for him and we'll make a decision going forward," Boughner said. "He looked really comfortable. That's now easy to do after being off as long as he had and not in the net. I think it's a relief for us, for Louie and for Reims. We have total confidence in him. We always have."

Video: BOS@FLA: Reimer quickly gets across to rob Grzelcyk


Ekblad hit the 30-point mark for the third time in his career on Thursday, scoring the game's first goal - which stood up as the game winner - in exciting fashion. With Bjugstad clogging up the crease, Ekblad slipped down near the goalmouth and tapped in a mid-air rebound to put the Panthers in front 1-0 at 6:25 of the first period.

The goal was Ekblad's 14th of the season - one shy of the career-high 15 he potted in 2015-16. He is now tied for second in the NHL in goals among blue liners, trailing Nashville's P.K. Subban and Calgary's Dougie Hamilton by one.

At 22, Ekblad is already in the midst of his third 10-goal, 30-point season. He leads Florida's defensemen in goals (14), power-play goals (4) and shots (164 + tonight). With two more goals, he will tie Jay Bouwmeester for the second-most goals in franchise history by a defenseman.

Video: BOS@FLA: Ekblad sneaks in, bats in loose puck


The goals keep coming for Bjugstad, who found the back of the net for the fourth time in his last five games on Thursday night. Racing up the right side of the ice, Bjugstad made a break towards the net before receiving a slick cross-ice pass from Evgenii Dadonov and stuffing the puck home to extend Florida's lead to 2-0 at 9:06 of the first period.

Bjugstad was also credited with the primary assist on Ekblad's goal, giving him his seventh multi-point game of the season. The 25-year-old forward has tallied 20 points (7-13-20) over his last 20 games - the fourth-most on the team during that span.

In the midst of what is shaping up to be the best statistical season of his career, Bjugstad currently ranks sixth on the Panthers in points (42) and third in even-strength goals (16). With one more point, he will tie the career-high 43 he posted during the 2014-15 season.

Video: BOS@FLA: Bjugstad buries Dadonov's cross-ice pass


After a lot of back-and-forth action, Trocheck gave the Panthers a little breathing room heading into the second intermission. With Florida on the power play, Trocheck gripped his stick and roofed a shot from the right circle to put the Panthers up 3-0 at 14:07 of the third period.

Since Feb. 5, Florida's power play ranks first in the NHL, going 17-for-53 (32.1 percent).

"To get that power play was timely," Boughner said. "The goal…We finally shot it. We were all screaming from the bench to shoot the puck. We finally shot and it went in. Huby [Jonathan Huberdeau] had a great screen on that goal."

The goal was Trocheck's team-leading 27th of the season and 13th with the man advantage, moving him into a three-way tie with Ray Sheppard and Olli Jokinen for the sixth-most power play goals in a single season in franchise history.

The goal tied Trocheck for third in the NHL in power-play goals and the 24-year-old has been hot of late, with 12 points (5-7-12) in his last 11 games. A feisty two-way player with a nose for the net, Trocheck also leads the Panthers in shots (236) and is first among the club's forwards in hits (119).

Video: BOS@FLA: Trocheck roofs wicked wrister for PPG


With an assist on Trocheck's power play goal, Aleksander Barkov recorded his career-high 70th point of the season, becoming the first Panther to hit that mark since fellow Finn Olli Jokinen in 2007-08.

"Can somebody else besides Finns get 70 points," Barkov joked.

Since the all-star break, Barkov has been producing points at a fairly absurd rate, with 27 points (10-17-27) in 21 games - the fifth-most points in the league over that span. With just eight more assists, Barkov will tie Viktor Kozlov for the most helpers in a single season in franchise history.

A potential Selke Trophy candidate, Barkov has been spectacular even when he's not lighting it up on offense - which, as of late, has been a rare occurence. Barkov ranks first among NHL forwards in average ice time (22:16) and leads the Panthers in takeaways (69) and faceoff wins (801).


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