Tonight the Boston Bruins looked for redemption as they hosted the Florida Panthers for the first time at the TD Garden and second meeting of the season. The last time the two met the Bruins were able to skate away with a 4-1 victory and tonight….
The first period provided fans with the ability to sigh with relief as they got on the board quick thanks to the captain showing them how it’s done with a big blast from the left side. From there they began to build momentum and around the 14:38 mark Tyler Seguin would fly up ice after receiving a pass from Dennis Seidenberg, toss it quickly over to the left side up to Marchand who snapped it back to the right to a flying Patrice Bergeron to tap it in behind netminder Scott Clemmensen before he knew what was happening. They were able to once gain earn a solid two-goal lead that would carry them into the middle frame, the question that loomed was could they keep up the momentum? During the intermission David Krejci spoke with Naoko Funayama and stated:
“We’ve been doing a good job dumping pucks in and chasing after them. We had a good first period, we just have to keep it up in the second.”
While passing may have worked for the B’s in the first period, the Horton-Krejci-Lucic line began to fall back into their similar pattern or passing the puck a little too much and trying to get those fancy plays. In return the Panthers were able to strike back. The play was initiated when Lucic threw a back pass that didn’t connect with anyone, leaving Matthias able to beat Hamilton who was in a tough position and beat Rask for a shorthanded goal just 3:10 into the second period, cutting the Bruins lead to 1. A little over midway through the second the Bruins were back to their, as of late, ‘normal’ style of play as they began to lose focus with questionable calls or lack thereof came from the officials and the Panthers found a way to scratch the surface in desperation. They were fortunate enough to only allow one goal in through the middle frame as they seemed to have lost all sense of their backchecking abilities that helped them get ahead in the first. Heading into the final frame the Bruins needed to clean up their act and get back into the mind set of Bruins third period hockey, a suit that hadn’t been their strongest in the past couple weeks.
Heading into the final frame the Bruins needed to control rebounds, be in good position and regain the confidence they had in the first period. Tuukka carried them through the second and helped them keep a one-goal lead, and it was up to the rest of the team to help him out for the final twenty.
“We started to get too fancy, we’re usually getting puck in deep, but for some reason we kept trying to do fancier plays instead of get the puck in deep and work it in there and we struggled. You can’t underestimate your opponent or you’re going to lose. We need to work the blue lines and focus on getting in deep.” – Johnny Boychuk during intermission.
It took a while for the Bruins to find a groove, but as the halfway marker inched closer and closer they seemed to slowly come out of their funk, still visibly discombobulated. The greatest opportunity of the first half came from a Milan Lucic who shot the puck over to Nathan Horton but unfortunately the puck went past the net off of his skate. Through the first ten minutes of the period the Bruins only had three shots registered on net. Fortunately the Panthers only had one, but as the clock ticked down under the ten minute mark the Bruins littered Clemmensen with shots for their best efforts in the previous thirty-five minutes with at least four shots before he was able to hold it for stoppage. Shortly after Tyler Seguin found an opening that went wide but the momentum began to really get going for the Bruins. As the Merlot line made their way up the ice off of a rebound Gregory Campbell sent the puck up to Shawn Thornton who was wheeling towards the corner, he passed it out in front towards the direction of Daniel Paille and chased after the rebounds. With hard work comes great things and as the puck came loose in the middle Thornton picked it up and fired it up and in, reinstating the 2-goal lead at 12:43. With 2:34 remaining Nathan Horton was able to bank a Dougie Hamilton shot past Clemmensen, but it was immediately waved off as Lucic fell on top of him with his skate catching the goalie’s pads disallowing him to make a play/save. With 1:30 to go the Panthers pulled the netminder in hopes of taking a stab at a cindarella comeback t but to no avail as the Patrice Bergeron used his speed to pick up a behind the back pass from Brian Campbell in the netural zone and skate in for the empty netter for a final 4-1 victory.
While the two points were much needed, there were plenty of things the Bruins could and need to improve on. They are still struggling to play a full sixty minute game despite their dominance early on in the season. They were lucky enough to skate away with the victory tonight against the struggling Panthers, an ugly win but two points nonetheless. They’re going to need to step up in a big way if they stand a chance at beating the Washington Capitals this Saturday in a matinee game at the Garden.