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Panthers Wrap-Up: Bruins 3, Panthers 2

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 0 1 1 0 2
Bruins 2 0 1 0 3
FLA - K. Versteeg (2), J. Winchester (1)
BOS - D. Paille (1), PPG - D. Hamilton (1), R. Smith (1)

SUNRISE, FL —  ( - Tim Thomas turned in a strong performance against his former team Thursday night, but it's the game's final shot he's likely to remember.

Reilly Smith's short backhander with 58.7 seconds remaining in regulation slipped through Thomas' pads for the game-winner to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center.

"We weren't very happy with our first at all and we started to get into the game in the second. I think we played a pretty good third overall. If we can play three periods like we played the second and third, we're going to give ourselves a lot more opportunities to start winning some games here."

- Goalender Tim Thomas.
1. Great Chances But Trailing: Florida had their chances in the first period against the Bruins and they had them early and late but still found themselves down two goals. Tomas Fleischmann had the first great chance 3:20 as he slipped behind the defense after both defenders converged on Brad Boyes. Fleischmann was denied twice by the left pad of Tuukka Rask on the play. Boston took the momentum to come down and score 25 seconds later as Daniel Paille scored on a soft lob shot on the rush over Tim Thomas. Boston took a 2-0 lead thanks to the power play and a towering Zdeno Chara setting a screen in front of Thomas as Dougie Hamilton scored on a bomb from the point. Attacking from his defense position, Matt Gilroy had two in close chances on Rask later in the period only to be denied and a couple of other good chances but Rask was up to the challenge in the first.

2. Tying It Up: The second finally sas the Cats get on the board and end a home scoreless streak as they last scored in the third period against Pittsburgh. Getting opportunities as the teams exchanged chances, (Boston led 11-8 in shots), Kris Versteeg made a nice move to the net to score top shelf on Rask. The Panthers kept pushing in the third period, turning the momentum to their side as they outplayed them and were rewarded with the game-tying goal with six minutes left to play. There, Jesse Winchester took three shots on Rask, batting in the third attempt while on the ice for the game-tying goal, sending the Panthers fans to their feet. Florida had outworked Boston in the second and third and looked like they would be heading to overtime and at least a point.

3. Unfortunate End In Thomas' Return: Overtime would not come unfortunately however, as Reilly Smith ruined Thomas' return to the crease for the Panthers as he played his first time against the team he led to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011. Thomas had missed action with a groin injury since leaving Oct. 8 in the first period in Philadelphia. Getting the start, after two first period goals, Thomas settled in and kept the Bruins off the board until the final minute of play. He would turn aside 37 shots in defeat, making some great saves to keep the Cats in it until they could tie it up. The winning goal caught Thomas off-guard as he thought it would be shot high but instead went five-hole on the netminder with 58.2 seconds remaining. A tough ending for Thomas and the Panthers as they couldn't find the equalizer in the dying seconds.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@CodyWearsRed: @FlaPanthers need to start strong from the start! Can't keep going down 2-0 and trying to come back every game!

@jonerik0619: @FlaPanthers next time we will get them

@SchenkDrums: @FlaPanthers Overall we play better each game. Sucks though that we gave one up so late.

@turbuLENTZ: @FlaPanthers Oh so close tonight. Great effort by the team. Something to build on. Proud of you boys.

@grueknowwho: A heartbreaking loss for the #FlaPanthers tonight. You can't say anyone didn't give 110 percent. Glad Winchester finally got one at least 

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Gal Oron: Best game of the season. What a heartbreak. Gotta take the positives and forget the Negatives. Hope to see you all on Saturday!

Lynette Diehl Scott: Exciting game tonight! Disappointed we lost but good comeback by the Cats.

Lourdes Armengol: Heartbreaking for TT

Eddie Castro: Still confident that we're headed in a better direction and more pleased with they they are playing compared to last season.

Gunther Schenk: Sad. Really sad.

1. A game after picking up his first point (assist against Nashville) as a Panther, Jesse Winchester picked up his first goal in a Cat's uniform as he tied the game at two with six minutes to play in the contest

2. It was two's across the board. The Panthers got on the score sheet thanks to Kris Versteeg's second of the year in the second period. Jonathan Huberdeau and Tom Gilbert picked up their second assists of the year on the goal.

4. He's known more for his offense but forward Tomas Fleischmann led the way in the hits department Thursday night for the Cats, registering a team-high four hits on the night. Florida finished with 27 as a team.

 The Panthers defense threw their bodies in the way of Bruins shots all night, finishing with 14 as a team. Mike Weaver and Tom Gilbert in fact, had as many blocked shots individually as the Bruins had as a team (three).

37. Seeing his first action since Oct. 8, Tim Thomas was great in his return as he turned aside 37 Boston shots.

Tim Thomas
Ultimately came out on the losing end thanks to a final minute goal but Thomas gave the Panthers a chance to win coming up with the saves as the Bruins pressured throughout the night.

40 Saves, 37 Shots, .925 SV%
The Panthers continue their season-long six-game home stand with a game against their third game in four contests against Western Conference foes. Playing the Kings and Predators in the first two games of the stretch, the Western Conference's Minnesota Wild pay a visit to South Florida. Led by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild are 3-3-2 in their first eight games, most recently falling 3-1 in Tampa on Thursday night.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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