|@ Bruins (16-9-3)||1||1||1||3|
The first period started off with some good, old-fashioned Bruins cheating. They tried to sneak Brad Marchand on the ice when a line change was not allowed. The Panthers looked good early on, but were not able to get as many opportunities to score as they should have. The first half of the period included a lot of back-and-forth, but Ryan Spooner was able to get one past Luongo about 12 minutes in to give the Bruins the lead. The call was reviewed, but the goal stood. After this, the Panthers were unable to recover. Their shots on goal pace plummeted, allowing for the Bruins to stand strong. Luongo actually had to make some skillful saves in order to keep the Cats in the game. At the end of the period, the Panthers trailed 1-0. The Bruins nearly doubled them in shots on goal 10-6. Overall, there was not a lot of action this period. There was not a lot of action in this period. The Panthers need to make sure they are getting quality chances, or else they definitely will not be able to get the puck past Tuukka Rask. The Cats have not had good luck at TD Garden, and as the Bruins are just ahead of the Panthers in the standings, this game is crucial. To win this game, the Panthers need to keep on shooting.
Another not-so-great event started the second period. Derek MacKenzie left the ice in the first two minutes due to a leg injury and it seemed pretty bad. Dave Bolland will probably have to pull some more weight now, for better or for worse. An Ekblad tripping call turned into a Rinaldo-Ekblad smack down by the net. Zac Rinaldo and Aaron Ekblad were both penalized for roughing, but the Ekblad tripping call kept the Bruins power play alive for a full two minutes. The Bruins naturally capitalized on the opportunity and Ryan Spooner scored his second goal of the game. Things were not looking good for the Panthers. As it turns out, Brian Campbell was the only one actually generating offense halfway through the second. It looked like the Panthers were gaining momentum, but that didn’t last long because the Bruins went right back to shooting. With 5 minutes left in the period, the Panthers finally got a power play opportunity. Patrice Bergeron was penalized for tripping Dmitry Kulikov. The penalty was killed, though, and 5-on-5 play resumed for the rest of the period. At the end of the frame, the Bruins led 2-0 and kept their lead in shots on goal 20-13. The Panthers really need to figure something out because this period was just as bad as the last one. This is truly an important game to win and for some reason, the Panthers just cannot keep possession of the puck.
The Panthers came back stronger in the third period than they had in the first two, but still to no avail. Zac Rinaldo charged at Connor Brickley and was penalized but he couldn’t head to the penalty box without getting beat up by Shawn Thornton. Connor Brickley went to the dressing room in the most injury-filled game ever. What else did you expect from the Bruins? Zac Rinaldo was given four minutes of penalties but the play remained 5-on-5 because Shawn Thornton got 4 minutes as well. Thankfully, Brickley soon made his way back to the ice. With 6 minutes left in the game, thing started to turn around for the Panthers. A Reilly Smith slap shot went five hole on Rask and the Panthers were within one goal of the Bruins again. The goal was assisted by Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Pirri. Yet, the comeback came too late and the Panthers were unable to tie up the game. In fact, quite the opposite happened. As soon as Luongo headed to the bench, Brad Marchand scored on the empty net. With that goal, the Bruins won the game 3-1. It seems that Panthers-Bruins games always end up being close, but the Panthers do not come up on top nearly as much. The Panthers had more shots on goal this period than they did in the first two combined, but none of this was enough to secure a Cats win.
Aaron Ekblad played a particularly good game defensively and offensively and was awarded the primary assist on the Smith goal. Brian Campbell also played a great two-way game and attempted to generate some offense at a time when there was none. Reilly Smith, a former Bruin, was the sole goal scorer for the Panthers.
The Panthers will continue their road trip on Tuesday, December 15th against the New York Islanders at 7:00 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.