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GameDay Caterwaul: Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins

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Cats looking to end two streaks tonight

NHL: Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers (28-26-12 68P) vs Bruins (40-17-9 89P)

  • WHEN: 7:00 p.m. ET
  • WHERE: TD Garden - Boston, MA
  • ON THE TUBE: FOX Sports Florida, NESN, SN1, SNE, SNO,
  • ON THE DIAL: 560 WQAM (D/B), 640 WMEN (PB), 1370 WAXE (TC), Thunder 100.3 (Keys)
  • SOCIALS: #FlaPanthers, #NHLBruins,#FLAvsBOS, @LitterBoxCats, LBC FaceBook
  • ENEMY INTEL: Stanley Cup of Chowder
  • FLA IN SEASON SERIES: Game 2 of 4 (1-0-0)
  • LAST MEETING: @FLA 5, BOS 0 - (Recap) - 12/4/2018
  • NEXT MEETING: March 23, 2019
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Luongo (14-14-4 .898/3.14 1SO) vs Rask (22-8-5 .922/2.29 3SO)
  • PLAYER STATS: Florida / Boston

Scouting Report (Courtesy of Field Level Media/AP)

The Boston Bruins will put their 17-game points streak on the line on Thursday night when they host the Florida Panthers.

Boston has won four straight games and is 13-0-4 during its points streak, all of which has helped make the Bruins (40-17-9, 89 points) the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, trailing only the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bruins will face the mighty Lightning -- who have the NHL’s best record by far with 106 points -- twice more in the regular season ... and perhaps in the playoffs as well.

In the meantime, the Bruins will face the team that shares the “Sunshine State” with Tampa Bay. That’s the Panthers, who hammered the Bruins 5-0 on Dec. 4 in Sunrise, Fla., thanks to Roberto Luongo’s 33 saves and Mike Hoffman’s two goals.

Boston and Florida will face each other three times this month, and the Panthers -- who are not in playoff position -- are definitely the more desperate team.

The Panthers (28-26-12, 68 points) have lost five straight games, all by one goal and four in overtime.

”All these games are (like) playoff games for us,” Panthers second-line center Vincent Trocheck said. “We have to play with a lot more intensity.”

The Panthers, who lost in overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Tuesday, got good news in that game, as defensive-minded defenseman MacKenzie Weegar returned after having missed four straight contests.

Weegar, 25, led all Panthers defensemen with four hits against the Penguins, adding three shots on goal, two takeaways and two blocked shots.

Meanwhile, the Bruins -- who beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday -- are 9-4 in one-goal games this season.

Boston is also 21-4-1 this season when leading after one period, and the Bruins have scored first in 11 of their past 17 games.

”We have a veteran group,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think our guys understand the importance of playing well at this time of year.”

The Bruins have been winning without 22-year-old star winger David Pastrnak, who leads the Bruins with 31 goals and is second in points (66) but hasn’t played since Feb. 10 due to a recent procedure on his left thumb.

Boston has also been without defenseman Kevan Miller (upper-body injury), center Sean Kuraly (concussion) and winger Marcus Johansson (upper-body).

Miller is not yet skating. Kuraly is skating while wearing a non-contact jersey and is aiming to play against the Panthers on Thursday. Pastrnak is skating, but there has been no update as to when he will be ready. Johansson remained hospitalized Wednesday after taking a brutal shoulder-to-shoulder hit against Carolina.

Given their impressive points streak, those injuries have not truly hurt the Bruins, who have leaned on third-line center Charlie Coyle since acquiring him from the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 20.

Coyle, a 2010 first-round pick of the San Jose Sharks, is a Massachusetts native who has come home to play for the Bruins. He starred in college at Boston University and has earned praise in his five games with the Bruins.

”He helps balance our minutes,” Cassidy said of Coyle, who has yet to produce a point for the Bruins. “He’s a little more comfortable in defensive-zone draws.”

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

  • New York Islanders (38-21-7 83P) at OTTAWA (23-38-6 52P) 7:30 p.m.
  • New York Rangers (27-28-11 65P) at DETROIT (23-33-10 56P) 7:30 p.m
  • Minnesota (32-27-8 72P) at TAMPA BAY (51-12-4 106P) 7:30 p.m
  • BUFFALO (30-28-8 68P) at Chicago (27-30-9 63P) 8:30 p.m.
  • MONTREAL (36-24-7 79P) at San Jose (39-19-8 86P) 10:30 p.m

Idle: TOR (87P)

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