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GameDay Caterwaul: Florida Panthers vs Boston Bruins

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Two points needed to keep pace with Blue Jackets and Devils

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Panthers (34-26-7 75P) vs Bruins (44-16-8 96P)

  • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET - LBC GameThread right here at 7:00ish
  • WHERE: BB&T Center - Sunrise, FL
  • ON THE TUBE: FOX Sports Florida, NESN, TVAS
  • ON THE DIAL: 560 WQAM (D/B), 640 WMEN (PB), 1370 WAXE (TC), Thunder 100.3 (Keys)
  • SOCIALS: #FlaPanthers, #NHLBruins, #BOSvsFLA, @LitterBoxCats, LBC FaceBook
  • ENEMY INTEL: Stanley Cup of Chowder
  • SB NATION: Game Feature Hub
  • FLA IN SEASON SERIES: Game 1 of 4
  • ALL-TIME vs BOS: 35W-43L-6T 4OTL 4SOL 225GF 267GA
  • ALL-TIME at FLA: 16W-21L-2T 2OTL 4SOL 121GF 133GA
  • LAST MEETING: @ BOS 5, FLA 2 - (Recap) - 4/1/2017
  • NEXT MEETING: March 31, 2018
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Reimer (16-13-5 .917/3.16 2SO) vs Khudobin (15-5-4 .918/2.48 1SO)
  • PLAYER STATS: Florida / Boston

Scouting Report (Courtesy of Stats LLC)

It may be that some fans who jumped on the Florida Panthers’ bandwagon as they stacked victory after victory onto the caravan ... are ready to jump off again.

That’s what happens when a team starts the season as poorly as the Panthers did, ranking 28th in the NHL in points as of Jan. 30. Since then, however, the Panthers are 15-4-1, putting them on the brink of a playoff spot.

But the Panthers suffered a bad home loss on Monday, falling 5-3 to the out-of-contention Ottawa Senators. That snapped Florida’s franchise-record eight-game home win streak.

On Thursday night, the Panthers will face a much tougher test when they host the Boston Bruins (44-16-8), who are chasing the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning have 100 points -- four more than Boston. But the Bruins have two games in hand.

In addition, the Bruins are coming off a miraculous comeback win on Tuesday night at Carolina. The Hurricanes led 4-1 in the third period and yet the Bruins scored five straight goals to win 6-4.

”We’ve got a good hockey team coming in here,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said of the Bruins. “Every game is as big as the next.”

The games are big for the Bruins, too, and they played like it on Tuesday, overcoming a third-period deficit of at least three goals and coming back to win in regulation for the first time since 1995. In fact, it was just the sixth time in their rich history that the Bruins have come back to win in those circumstances.

Boston right winger David Pastrnak was the biggest hero with his first career hat trick and also one assist. All three of his goals came in the third period.

”We knew it was a big ask to come back,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told the media. “We talked about it after the second period. We told them, ‘Listen, you just have to play better than the guy across from you, out-compete him and win some pucks. We may or may not win. But that’s how we have to play.’”

The Bruins won with that simple approach, improving to 7-1-0 in their past eight games, making them every bit as hot as the Panthers.

Three of Boston’s third-period goals were scored in a span of 77 seconds, shocking Carolina in its own arena.

Boston played with just four defensemen for part of the third period after Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug left with undisclosed injuries. Those are Boston’s top two defensemen, and their status for Thursday is in doubt.

In addition, the Bruins lost left winger Jake DeBrusk (14 goals, 25 assists) to an upper-body injury. He is also questionable for Thursday.

Those injuries and the fact that the Bruins have to travel and play at Florida with less rest should give the Panthers a bit of an advantage.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are healthy and hope to rebound from that Ottawa loss. They haven’t lost consecutive home games since early December and need to win to continue to apply pressure on the teams they are chasing for the Eastern Conference wild-card playoff berths, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New Jersey Devils.

”This homestand, we’ve been rolling,” Boughner said. “The team has been playing well and finding ways to win (in general). We’re going to move ahead (from the Senators loss). We will be fine.”’

Thursday in the Atlantic (Standings/Panthers Playoff Chances):

  • TORONTO (41-22-7 89P) at BUFFALO (22-35-12 56P) 7 p.m.
  • Pittsburgh (40-26-5 85P) at MONTREAL (26-32-12 64P) 7:30 p.m.
  • DETROIT (26-32-11 63P) at Los Angeles (38-26-6 82P) 10:00 p.m. NBCSN

Idle: TBL (100P), OTT (61P)

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