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Cats Sweep Season Series vs. Bruins

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Jesse Agler's post-game report:

More sloppy play at the start of the third as the Panthers had several turnovers right in front of Ed Belfour as they continue to give Boston gifts.

Marc Savard hooks Rostislav Olesz and the Panthers go back on the power play and cash in again. Nathan Horton a gorgeous pass to a cutting Martin Gelinas who tips it in just before he ends up sliding feet-first into the net. 6-2 Cats just about 14 minutes left.

Just a couple of minutes later, Chris Gratton finds himself with the puck in front of the net. Once, twice, three times the charm as he hacks away and puts one in to become the first Panther to score multiple goals tonight—his second, and it is a 7-2 lead. I mentioned on the pre-game show that the Panthers had not scored eight goals since they beat up Boston on opening night, way back in October. Now they're just one away from finally matching that total. Wow.

Gratton two goals and an assist, Kolnik three assists, Weiss a goal and two assists, Gelinas a goal and an assist tonight, as several Panthers are having multi-point nights. Cats now with 42 shots on goal, as well. Still half the period to play. 13 different Panthers with points. I'll say it again—wow.

Double-minor high-sticking call on Ruslan Salei with about nine minutes left and the Panthers go back to that very familiar position of having to kill off a penalty (or two). Cats kill off the first two minutes and then draw a penalty of their own, so we get some 4-on-4 hockey followed by a brief Panther power play. I'm off to the tunnel to do my post-game interview, I'll be back after the game.

Not much happened in the final five minutes or so as the Cats cruise to a 7-2 win and sweep the season series from the Bruins. When all is said and done, the Panthers outscore the B's 24-10 on the year and now move on towards the trade deadline and a Tuesday night date with the Capitals in DC.

Goldie and Moller will be on the air beginning at 630 for the 7pm start. What a win for the Panthers, fun night at the arena, we'll talk to you soon!

-Jesse

Jesse Agler's 2nd intermission blog:

A not-so-surprising goalie change for Boston as the second period gets underway. Tim Thomas' night is over and Hannu Toivonen will be charged with holding the Panthers off the scoresheet the rest of the way.

Greg Campbell gets hit for a second straight high-sticking call at 5:15 so the Cats go back on the PK. Another successful kill for the Panthers as they continue to dominate this Boston team that came into the game tonight as one of the hottest teams in the league.

Bruins finally get their first shot of the period about seven and a half minutes in. Now, you guessed it, another Panther penalty and Boston goes on its fifth consecutive power play.

Another good kill for the Panthers with a couple more good short-handed opportunities. Still, though, without the penalties, the Bruins would have nothing happening.

Panthers win a faceoff in front of Toivonen and Alexi Semenov ripped off a wicked slap shot that rebounded right to Chris Gratton who easily tucked it away on the other side for his 10th goal of the season. First point for Semenov since rejoining the team last week, now 4-0 Panthers.

Not two minutes later, Mike Van Ryn gets the puck to Jozef Stumpel, who leaves it for Olli Jokinen and the captain ripped a slapshot through a screen for his 25th goal and the Panthers a 5-0 lead.

More penalty trouble would follow, though, and this time the Cats would pay. Nine seconds after Alexi Semenov is called for holding the stick, Campbell gets his third high-sticking call of the night giving Boston a 5-on-3 that resulted in their first goal of the night, 5-1 Panthers and the B's still a man up. Bruins convert again, this time it's Boyes collecting the rebound in
front of Ed Belfour and putting it home for his 12th of the year and just like that, it's 5-2. Panthers have completely allowed Boston back in this game with penalties.

Speaking of penalties...finally one is called on the Bruins after seven straight calls on the Panthers. Not complaining about the officiating,
either—they all seemed to be pretty straightforward calls. Cats have some trouble getting set up on the power play but eventually start pressuring Toivonen with about 30 seconds left in the advantage.

No power play goal for the Panthers but the clock is moving quickly in this final minute of the period and we'll head to the second intermission with the Cats up 5-2. Strange period, each team scores twice—but the Panthers [hopefully] with a comfortable lead through two. I'll be back after the game to wrap things up...

--Jesse


Jesse Agler's 1st intermission blog:

We've said it before and we'll say it again tonight—Panthers strike early here at home. Less than five minutes into the game, the line of Chris
Gratton, Juraj Kolnik, and Ville Peltonen combine for a pressure-filled shift in front of B's goalie Tim Thomas that results in a goal and a 1-0
lead. Peltonen snapped a wrist shot right through Kolnik's screen after Gratton dug the puck out for the Panthers.

Moments later Olli Jokinen had an open lane in front of the net and fed a pretty pass to Mike Van Ryn, who missed the net. Cats continued to pressure, though, and as Marty Gelinas broke into the zone, he was interfered with by Mark Stuart, and the Panthers power play will get to work.

Soon thereafter, with 1:19 left on the Stuart penalty, Andrew Ference is called for holding the stick and the Cats get over a minute of 5-on-3.

After losing the faceoff and coming in offsides, the Panthers got set up and Stephen Weiss had a quick little pass fed to him from Martin Gelinas and put it in for his 13th goal of the year, a new career high, and the Panthers lead 2-0 with another minute and a half of power play time coming.

Cats had another good chance but the power play ends without another goal. Still a 2-0 lead less than halfway through the first period is a great
start. Panthers putting tons of pressure on Thomas, as the Cats have rolled off 10 straight shots.

With about seven minutes left, Marco Sturm got behind the Cats' defense and had a breakaway past Mike Van Ryn, who was forced to take a hooking penalty and give the B's their first power play of the night.

Great short-handed chance for Greg Campbell who fought the puck away from a pair of Bruins and got off a sneaky wrist shot that ended up underneath of a sprawled out Thomas. Panthers now outshooting Boston 17-7.

Another Panther penalty lead to another perfect penalty kill as the Cats out-chanced the B's with Ville Peltonen in the box for tripping. Just three
seconds after the penalty expired, though, Campbell is called for high-sticking and Boston gets another power play. This go-round the Bruins
apply great pressure with the extra man but again, the Cats with a short-handed chance and Nathan Horton off a feed from Stpehen Weiss nets a
shorty and the Cats lead 3-0! Panthers kill the rest of the penalty and end this period on a total high-note.

I'll be back after the second with what is hopefully some more good news...

--Jesse


Jesse Agler's pregame blog:

Panthers host the Boston Bruins tonight in Sunrise, final meeting of the year between these two teams. And too bad for the Cats, they have handled the B's about as well as they have any team this season.

Panthers have won all three match-ups so far and have outscored Boston 17-8 in those three games. In fact the Panthers scored eight on opening night all on their own—a game that saw Todd Bertuzzi score his first (and so far only goal) in a Panther uniform just about six and a half minutes into the season and assist on three others. The final score was 8-3.

That October 6th night seems like forever ago, as the Panthers have yet to score that many goals in a game again, and Todd Bertuzzi, long-since out with the back injury, has yet to score another goal.

The Bruins, meanwhile, are trying desperately to pull themselves into the playoff conversation and that desperation is paying off. B's have won four in a row and eight of ten, all of a sudden with 64 points they are just five points back of the final post-season berth in the East. Tonight wraps up a brutally long road trip (they haven't played in Beantown since the 13th) that has seen them go 4-1 so far, including a 6-2 thrashing of the Lightning last night in Tampa.

The Cats, of course, are coming off of a tough 2-1, OT loss to the Penguins in Thursday night. With the trade deadline looming, and the Panthers still not making up significant ground in the East, it is certainly a possibility that this could be the final home-game in a Panther uniform for somebody (or somebodys) before the Panthers next play in Sunrise Thursday night against the Stars.

Nonetheless, should be an exciting one tonight—always a good crowd with all of the Bostonians in South Florida and the Cats, as I said, always seem to play this group tough. Our coverage on the radio tonight will begin at 6 with Panthers Weekend Edition. Panther Preview driven by JM Lexus is at 7, and the puck drops tonight at 730. I'll be back after the first period to let you know how it's going—enjoy the game!

--Jesse


Game Preview

The Florida Panthers will take on the Boston Bruins tonight at the BankAtlantic Center at 7:30pm. Tonight's game wraps up the season series between the two Eastern Conference teams.

The Bruins have struggled against the Panthers and will look to snap a five-game losing streak tonight. The Panthers have outscored Boston 17-8 this season, winning all three meetings. Florida has not lost to Boston since November 3, 2005.

Florida is 9-2-3 in its last 14 home games including a 2-1 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday. Juraj Kolnik's second-period goal tied the score, and Ed Belfour made 16 of his 39 saves in the third period and overtime.

"He's been pretty outstanding in that last little stretch (and Thursday) was no different," Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "He kept us in the game for a while. It's pretty amazing what he's doing for a guy who's over 40 years old."

Belfour, who turns 42 on April 21, is 18-7-0 with three ties and a 2.33 goals-against average in 30 career games versus the Bruins, winning four of his last five starts against them. In two wins this season against the Bruins, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner has given up four goals.

Olli Jokinen leads Florida with 24 goals and 35 assists, but has only two assists in his last five games. He has four goals and six assists during a five-game point streak against Boston.
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