|@ Bruins (39-28-8)||0||1||0||1|
The Bruins pretty much controlled the play in the 1st period. The Panthers had some chances, but they were mostly one-off and not the result of sustained pressure in the zone. Boston got consecutive two power plays as a result of Dmitry Kulikov getting called for interference and tripping, and despite the Bruins controlling the zone during their man advantages, the Panthers blocked the puck several times and got some good saves from Roberto Luongo. Early in the period, a Bruins shot deflected into the air off of Luongo’s shoulder and into the blue paint, but fortunately Steven Kampfer was there to swat it away with his right hand. The Panthers also went on the power play after a shot by Trocheck deflected up into the air before being tipped into the stands by Zdeno Chara, but didn’t get many chances, or at least not as many quality ones as the Bruins.
The Panthers were sluggish out of the gate again to start the 2nd period and the Bruins went on a power play not long after the puck dropped. Florida killed it off but the Bruins continued to control the pace of play as the Panthers were unable to get their forecheck going. Luongo got a stick to the neck from Stempniak (no call was made), however he was OK and stayed in the game.
The Panthers went on the power play during which Brad Marchand had a good breakaway chance that was stopped by Luongo, and that would be the best chance both ways on that power play as the Bruins would kill it off. Ryan Spooner scored to give the Bruins the 1-0 lead after he picked up the puck along the right wing boards uncontested and sent a wrist shot past some net-front traffic and Luongo.
Right after that Luongo just barely made a huge save on a point-blank shot from the slot to keep the game at 1-goal deficit. It wouldn’t be long after that the Panthers’ 2nd line would strike yet again as Reilly Smith followed through on a rebound in front of the net after a Trocheck shot attempt to tie the game at 2.
The Panthers would go back on the penalty kill, but it was Vincent Trocheck who took advantage and sniped the puck top shelf on Tuukka Rask for a shorthanded goal after going 1-on-1 with a Bruins forward in the Bruins’ zone. It was clear that the Panthers came alive after the Smith goal as they pretty much controlled the game right until the end of the 2nd period.
The Panthers picked up where they left off at the end of the 2nd period, and although there was a small push back from the Bruins, they held down the fort. There was a close call as a redirection in front of Luongo left the puck on the goal line against his right pad. After an incredibly long review, the referees ruled that it was inconclusive and the ‘no goal’ call stood. The Boston fans were irate as the replay appeared to show the puck behind the line, but it the netting prevented it from being a clear view, and they proceeded to throw items onto the ice.
The Bruins were later called for a too many men on the ice penalty after Hudler became upset at the referee, and Jussi Jokinen would score right at the tail end of the power play on top-shelf deflection of a Dmitry Kulikov slap-pass to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead.
Jonathan Huberdeau salted it away with an empty-net goal assisted by Jaromir Jagr and Aleksander Barkov.
The Panthers didn’t have the 1st period they wanted to (or needed to), but they escaped without allowing any goals and built off of that the rest of the way. The “2nd-line” of Jokinen, Trocheck, and Smith combined for 3 goals, 5 points, and a +8 rating to power the Panthers past the Bruins in a must-win game, and they now lead the Atlantic Division once again with 91 points, their total from last season. Jokinen is now tied with Jaromir Jagr for the team lead in points with 56 and leads the team with 40 assists. Luongo made several key saves throughout the game to keep the Panthers in the game early and ahead in the later parts.
Tonight’s victory is the Panthers’ first in Boston since December 8th, 2011.
The Panthers will travel to Tampa to face the Lightning on Saturday night. Stay tuned for our coverage of that game.