After suffering tough losses in Toronto and Ottawa, the Florida Panthers were battered 5-1 by the Eastern Conference’s top team, the Boston Bruins in matinee action from TD Garden. The Panthers finished a key four-game road trip with a 1-2-1 record, not good enough to make up any ground in the playoff chase.
Florida reversed a recent trend of starting poorly to post the game’s first goal at the 4:59 mark when Jamie McGinn outworked Kevan Miller and Ryan Donato, son of Ted in front to stuff in a rebound of Vincent Trocheck’s shot that was stopped by Tuukka Rask. Keith Yandle, who fed Trocheck, took a whack at the puck before McGinn knocked it home to pick up the primary assist.
The Bruins replied 6:16 later when Nick Holden came down from the point and got a step on Henrik Borgstrom to deflect David Krejci’s perfect pass by James Reimer. The second assist on Holden’s first goal as Bruin went to rookie Jake DeBrusk, son of Louie.
The 21-year-old DeBrusk put the home team on top for good at 14:06 when he converted Donato’s quick pass from behind the net after a terrible turnover by Alex Petrovic. Losing the puck behind their own goal has been a season-long problem that as Delbert Grady would say, needs to be “corrected.”
Like DeBrusk, Donato added to his assist with a goal 1:32 into the second. Krejci stripped the puck from Mike Matheson and it came right to the recent U.S. Olympian, and he skated into the high slot before blowing a shot by an unscreened Reimer, who screamed “Something in the fog!” - effectively ending the game.
Micheal Haley’s holding penalty set the stage for Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal at 13:40. David Pastrnak took a pass from Donato and let a shot go that was stopped by Reimer. David Backes loosened the puck and Bergeron swooped in like a rabid St. Bernard to put it over the goal line.
DeBrusk bagged his second of the afternoon to complete the scoring 2:52 later. After taking an up the boards pass from Matt Grzelcyk, Miller busted down the right side past a disinterested Evgenii Dadonov and threw a shot a Reimer. The puck dribbled off the goaltender’s body and DeBrusk poked it in to complete a three-point performance.
After generating only sixteen shots in the first forty minutes, the Panthers put fifteen on Rask in the third period, but could draw no closer. Brandon Carlo appeared to sustain an injury to his left leg when he twisted and fell in an awkward manner in the corner of the rink while battling for the puck. Carlo left the game on stretcher.
The Bruins dealt the Panthers playoff chances a huge blow that is not yet fatal. The Cats were in the game... until the B’s scored. It didn’t take long for the wheels to come off after that as the Panthers simply melted down and took yet another loss in Beantown. Florida needs to make up three points on New Jersey in the next week (and that’s if the Devils lose to the Islanders tonight) to get into the playoffs. After today’s performance, and with two more tilts left with Boston, that seems highly unlikely as Tuukka Rask travels with the Panthers soul in his pocket.
Tea & Honey
- With the easy win over the Panthers, the Bruins jumped Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division. Boston leads the Eastern Conference with 109 points.
- Ho hum, Tuukka Rask tamed the Cats again with 30 saves. Rask is 10-0-1 in his past 11 starts.
- James Reimer finished the game with 19 saves and was replaced by Roberto Luongo at the start of the third period. Luongo stopped all nine of the shots he faced.
- David Pastrnak picked up his 200th career NHL point. He is the second member of the 2014 NHL draft class to reach that milestone, joining Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl.
- With a goal and assist, Ryan Donato has seven points in first seven big-league games. Wicked impressive looking rookie.
- Aleksander Barkov was held without a point for the third straight game. Barkov had an ugly day in the faceoff department, losing 15 of 21 draws.
- Vincent Trocheck was only of five Cats to finish with an even-rating and had five shots on goal in addition to his helper.
- Visit Stanley Cup of Chowder for more of the bitter taste one’s gets when Boston beats Florida.