BOSTON (AP) - Tomas Kopecky broke a scoreless tie with 2:32 left and Jose Theodore stopped 40 shots as the Florida Panthers beat the Boston Bruins 2-0 on Thursday night and sent Tim Thomas to his first loss in 11 games.
It was the second shutout of the season for Theodore.
1. Battle Of The Goaltenders: Both Florida's Jose Theodore and Boston's Tim Thomas entered the game with pretty impressive resumes to the 2011-12 season. Theodore had a 2.28 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. Thomas was even better, sporting a 1.87 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. Both netminders were on throughout as Theodore stopped 40 shots in the game and Thomas thwarted 29 Panthers shots. The Panthers netminder was one save better in coming up with his second shutout of the season (first game of season at NY Islanders). Theodore made numerous point blank saves. His best came with Milan Lucic in the slot with 15:51 left in the third as he robbed him with a glove save. Thomas, while not as busy, was not to be outdone as he stopped Jack Skille from in close with about five minutes to play.
2. Penalty Kill Huge: It wasn't the best of nights for the Panthers sticks. In the majority of the games (23-of-27), Florida had received as many power plays or more power plays than their opponents. Boston flipped the switch on the visitors as Florida was whistled for four minors resulting in Bruin power plays. Despite a full eight minutes to work on, Boston could not solve the Panthers penalty kill units. Boston did put seven power play shots on net but Florida was able to clear away any chance for a rebound if Theodore was not able to stop the puck cold.
3. Dirty Goal Wins It: With the way the goaltenders were playing, you just knew that it was going to take one of those dirty, crash the net goals to win it and that's exactly what Tomas Kopecky provided with 2:32 left on the clock. Dmitry Kulikov blocked a Boston shot. Then Shawn Matthias picked up the puck, raced down the ice and fired a shot on Thomas. A crashing Sean Bergenheim couldn't get his stick on the puck but with it sitting outside of the crease, Kopecky did as he scored top shelf into the open net. The Panthers forward paid the price as he was upended by a downed Thomas, but it didn't matter as his fourth goal of the year stood as the game-winner.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.
@rockawayrob: Scared the crap out of my cat when Kopecky scored to put #FlaPanthers up 1-0 against the Bruins #WeSeeRed
@MikeBradley27: Big win by the #FlaPanthers tonight over the Bruins. Think the NHL is starting to see RED.
@mancphoenix: Epic Jose Theodore trending worldwide #FlaPanthers won 2-0 v #BostonBruins EPIC take note NHL Panthers are real deal
@Ewener: Watching a hard fought #FlaPanthers win > studying, hopefully it pays off...Cats momentum will rub off on me right?! #roadwarriors
@9_11Never_4get: Reminds me of the '96 hard working Stanley Cup #FlaPanthers team. Fun to watch again!
Memorable fan posts from the game.
Phillip Diorio: Great win for the panthers. Like I said, the best teams in the league find ways to win even when they are outplayed. Congratulations to Theo!! This was a hard fought grinding win and they will definitly feel the fatigue tomorrow night.
Gregory Cordero: Cats battled till the end and never gave up.. That's what i'm talking about! GO PANTHERS!!
Andrea Howell: And on a side note... Way to celebrate Game 600 Theo!! Shut Out baby!!!
Mike Yannuzzi: HUGE WIN!!!! #inTHEOwetrust
Carmen Suarez: Hats off to Theodore. This man was amazing tonight. I can see the love and pride this. Teeam has. It sureal!
4. The Panthers were penalized more than their opponents (power play opportunity wise) for just the fifth game this season as Boston had four power play chances to Florida's one. The Panthers penalty kill unit was up to the task, killing off all four Boston man advantages on the night. 9. New acquisition Krys Barch was a factor Thursday night, at least when it came to the penalty sheet. Barch picked up his first fight in his first shift of the night, squaring off against Shawn Thornton. He also picked up a charging penalty on the play. Later in the second period, he picked up a holding call. Barch finished with the nine penalty minutes on 5:47 of ice time. 40.Jose Theodore saw a lot of rubber as the Bruins threw 40 puck on net (at least that reached Theodore). The Panthers netminder stopped all 40 for his second shut out of the season. 152. It took almost the entire 60 minutes for a goal to be scored and it was the gritty goal by Tomas Kopecky following up on a rebound as he crashed the net for the game-winner with 2:32 left on the clock.
600. Getting to play after missing the last game due to the flu, Theodore became the 39th netminder (fifth active) to play in his 600th career game in NHL history.
It's a quick turnaround for the Panthers as they play a second game in two nights. They'll make a return visit to Buffalo to take on the Sabres Friday night. Florida got two goals in the last four minutes to come back and beat the Sabres on October 29. Tomas Fleischmann tied it with 3:58 left on the clock and Jason Garrison's blast beat Ryan Miller for a power play goal with just 1:43 remaining. Buffalo comes into the game at 14-11-2 after falling 5-4 in overtime to Philadelphia on Wednesday night. The Sabres had a three-goal lead in the first 19 minutes of the game but couldn't gain the second point.