The surging Bruins showed the Florida Panthers why they top the Atlantic Division last night at TD Garden. Boston scored twice in each period to hammer the Cats by a 6-2 count. The Bruins have won all three meetings between the two teams this season.
Tim Thomas' first start as a visitor in Boston didn't go well at all. The veteran netminder, and former Bruin, surrendered all six goals on 41 shots. A frustrated Thomas took a penalty for smacking B's forward Carl Soderberg in the head with his stick with four seconds remaining in the game.
Despite playing the New York Islanders in Uniondale the night before, the Bruins got off to a fast start with first period goals from Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara. Big Z's marker hit Thomas in the helmet before it ended up dribbling into the net. David Krejci assisted on both of the goals.
Lucic scored again early in the second period, and Soderberg found Reilly Smith wide-open for a power-play goal later in the frame as Boston extended it's lead to 4-0.
Nick Bjugstad set up Brad Boyes for a one-timer with 33 seconds left in the second to finally get the reeling Panthers on the board. The goal was the fourteenth of the season for Boyes.
The Cats struck again four minutes into the third period, when Dmitry Kulikov's wrister eluded Tuukka Rask. Sean Bergenheim and Scott Gomez combined to set up the power-play goal (That's right people! A power-play goal!), ending an 0-for-43 drought with the man-advantage,
Any hope Florida had of mounting a comeback, like they did Sunday in the Motor City, was snuffed out when the Cats went completely limp in their own end and Shawn Thornton easily moved in on Thomas to shovel home a backhander at the 8:14 mark.
Krejci capped off his big night by converting a ghastly Dylan Olsen turnover into the B's final goal with 2:09 left on the clock.
Other than finally picking up a power-play goal, there's not much positive to take from this one. The Panthers were completely overwhelmed by the Bruins, basically from start to finish. I was hoping the Cats would catch the B's a bit on the tired side after they beat the Islanders on the road Monday night, but that was just not the case. Unfortunately, the Panthers got off to their usual flat start and paid for it by getting completely dominated in the first period. The Cats did show a little bit of moxie by cutting two goals from the deficit, but the Bruins are simply too good right now to let a team come all the way back on them. The Panthers need to right the ship and tighten things up in their own end next time out against Toronto or they could surrender another six-pack to the Maple Leafs.
Odds & Ends
- The Panthers didn't look at all ready for the challenge facing them last night, and the Bruins ended up blitzing them for 19 shots and 2 goals in the opening period,
- Kulikov's power-play goal was the team's first of 2014. The last time the Cats clicked with the man-advantage was on December 28th, when Sean Bergenheim lit the lamp against the Detroit Red Wings. Kulikov is hot lately, with three goals in his last six outings.
- The win was Boston fourth in a row. The B's are now 5-0-1 in their last six, with the only a blemish a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in Chicago.
- Tomas Kopecky returned from a four-game absence and finished with 2 shots on goal.
- While not all his fault, Thomas has surrendered ten goals in his last two starts and sixteen over the last four. Even though the schedule allows Thomas at least one off-day going forward for the next four games, it might be time for Scott Clemmensen to step in and give him a breather.
- On that note, the Panthers really need to clean things up in their own end. Way too much soft play and too many costly turnovers as of late.
- Tuukka Rask finished with 28 saves and raised his record to 24-12-3. Rask is tied with Anaheim's Jonas Hiller for the fifth-most wins in the league.
- Sean Bergenheim suited up for his 100th game with the Cats, and his helper on the Kulikov goal was the 150th point in his NHL career.
- Cats' workhouse defender Brian Campbell had a tough night. Soupy went -4 and didn't register a shot on goal, ouch.
- For another taste of last night's Boston Massacre, have yourself a bowl of hearty Stanley Cup of Chowder. It's um-um good.