The Bruins Cruise Past the Panthers 4-1

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Prior to tonight the Bruins had been 1-3-1 in their last five games.  It was not a streak that Boston was proud of, as they had strung together several disappointing performances in a row.  The most recent came on Tuesday night, after they suffered a tough loss to the Dallas Stars during a shootout.  Former B, Rich Peverley netted the game winner as the Stars managed to slip past the Bruins.

Claude Julien was looking for anything that he could to work with.  He hoped to somehow empower his team to find some spark and get going.  The Bruins weren’t playing the game that they were capable of.  It was time to wake up.  Every single player on the team had hopes to improve their game and get a win as the struggling Florida Panthers rolled into town.

Tim Thomas wasn’t able to make his first return to the Garden after signing with the Panthers, due to an injury to many fans dismay.  Once again, Julien used Matt Bartkowski and Jordan Caron as the healthy scratches for the Spoked B.

It was Tuukka Time at the Garden, as the goalie squared off against Scott Clemmensen.  Five minutes into the game, Kelly took a rough elbow to the jaw from Jesse Winchester.  Kelly went down and managed to skate off the ice on his own before he headed straight to the locker room to get checked out.  There was no penalty on the play although both of Winchester’s feet were off the ice during the hit.

Gregory Campbell soon dropped the gloves with Winchester as he stood up for his teammate.  The crowd was stirring, as punches were thrown.  Both Campbell and Winchester were assigned matching penalty majors for fighting.  The bout was short, but Campbell did what he needed to do as he defended Kelly.

Kelly returned to the ice a few minutes later, and he was good to go.  Not too long after, Dougie Hamilton was sent to the sin bin on a hooking call.  The Panthers only managed to get two shots off  during their power play.  The Bruins successfully killed the penalty.  Not soon after returning to full strength, the B’s were back on the kill as Soderberg was assigned a high sticking penalty.  During that kill, The Bruins did not allow a single shot on net.  The Bruins had killed off thirteen straight penalties in a row.

Other than a few penalties on the Bruins, the first period ended pretty dully.  Overall, it was uneventful and the skating was once again slow.  The most interesting part of the period, hands down had to be the Campbell fight.  After one frame, Florida had an 8-7 shot on goal advantage.

29 seconds into the second period, the B’s headed to a familiar place once again: the penalty kill. Bergeron was sent to the box on a hooking call.  The Bruins killed off their third penalty on the night making it look easy.

Boston was struggling.  They headed to the power play after a tripping call on the black cats, and could only get three shots off on goal.  The chances were coming and the opportunities were plentiful, but luck wasn’t on their side.

Luck could only be against the Bruins for so long.  The Lucic-Krejci-Iginla line finally broke through as Krejci tallied the go ahead goal. Krejci aimed a low shot, and one timed the puck past Clemmensen.  Boston had scored first in a game after going four games in a row in which they had allowed the other team to strike first.

The Big Bad Bruins had stirred.  They were awake, as Bergeron’s line had a good effort following Krejci’s goal.  Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with Krys Barch getting the crowd into the game even more.  The Garden roared as Thorty easily man handled Barch.  They were old foes as the two fought together for the seventh time overall in their careers.  Fighting majors were handed out to the pair, but the crowd was into it as Thornton skated off.

There was a scare on the ice as Bergeron took a puck to the face and went to the room to get looked at.  The forward didn’t return for the remainder of the period but was back out there in the third.  He looked no worse for wear.  It was difficult to keep a guy who once played through a punctured lung and a separated shoulder out of the game.

The siren blared signaling the end of the second period and the Bruins were up 1-0.  They were looking much better, but were nowhere near finished.  Both teams had 9 shots on goal during the period; overall the shots on goal were in favor of Florida as they led 17-16.  The game was still close, but wouldn’t be for long.

Brad Marchand was able to get the monkey off his back as he tallied his first goal since October 5th.   The Nose Faced Killah got his second goal of the year as he put the B’s up 2-0 at 4:09 in the final period.  The effort that the gritty forward had been showing lately, finally paid off.

Torey Krug decided to join in on the goal scoring fun, as the defenseman scored his sixth goal on the young season.  He is now tied with Eric Karlsson for most goals in the NHL by a defenseman.  The Bruins were up 3-0 as Krug had lengthened the lead.  The young defenseman is second on the team in goals, only behind Milan Lucic who has seven of his own.

The Panthers threatened to show a bit of life, as Jesse Winchester scored on a Bjugstad rebound.  But the B’s soon silenced the kitties as Reilly Smith added to the lead.  Smith netted the final goal of the game as he scored at 18:13 from the slot.

It was 4-1.  The damage had been done as time ran out.  The B’s had finally showed up.  Overall, it was a great effort from Boston.  As the game wore on, each line seemed to improve with every shift that they took.  The team was determined as they went out and finally dug out a good win.  The Merlot line was the only line to be kept without a goal on the night, but they did have two fights. The Big Bad Bruins looked as if they were back.  It was the game that they had wanted to play.

Tuukka Rask stopped 23 of the 24 shots that he faced, as he continues to be nearly impeccable on home ice this season.  Rask now has a .958 save percentage as the team picked up 2 points on the evening.  Reilly Smith had a big two-point night as well, as he tallied a 13:08 time on ice.

The Bruins broke out against the Panthers.  On Saturday night, they’ll hope to play in similar fashion when the Maple Leafs head into Beantown.  If the Black and Gold can continue to demonstrate the effort that they had against the Panthers, then they should have no trouble as they face the Leafs for the first time since the famous Game 7 Comeback.

Rachel Murphy – NHL Contributor – TitleTown Sports Network

Follow along with Rachel on Twitter: @rembostonsports

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