B's thrash Panthers 5-2 to extend season-best winning streak to five games
If only the Bruins could play the Florida teams every game...
The Bruins swept their season series vs the Florida Panthers a day after doing the same to the Tampa Bay Lightning, winning 5-2 on goals from Carl Soderberg, Torey Krug, Patrice Bergeron, Jarome Iginla and Chris Kelly. Backup goalie Chad Johnson made 20 saves in the contest and picked up his 13th win of the year.
The Bruins are on a five-game winning streak, their longest of the season.
Krug celebrates his goal (via P.Carter)
It took a while for the effort the Bruins gave in the game to translate into goals, but after being stifled for 40 minutes by old friend Roberto Louongo, the B's exploded for four scores in the third period to finish off the Panthers and grab their 42nd win on the year.
The win gives them 89 points and (gasp!) vaults them into first place in the Eastern Conference over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The first period saw Boston throwing 12 shots on Louongo, but the former Vancouver Canuck turned aside each one. Johnson was also up to the task in the first 20, stopping the seven shots the Panthers threw on him.
Boston had their skating game, they just couldn't break Louongo. They played hard and fast, but couldn't capitalize on the sustained pressure through the period.
The second period saw more of the same, headlined by a lengthy stretch by the Bruins in the offensive zone just two minutes into into the frame. The sustained pressure, coupled with a desperate icing attempt by the Panthers, resulted in Florida having to use their timeout.
But even with all of the pressure, it was the Panthers who found the goal to open the scoring.
Former BC Eagle Jimmy Hayes put the Panthers on the board first at 7:00, batting home a rebound off Chad Johnson. Cycling work in the corner by the Panthers from Nick Bjugstad and Sean Bergenheim ended with the shot on net, and Hayes was parked in front of the crease to beat Johnson. It was a rather disappointing goal to give up, as the Bruins had the better of the play for almost the entire game.
But the Panthers didn't hold the lead for long, as it was Carl Soderberg (or Andrej Meszaros) on the powerplay who tied the game for Boston at 9:58. The unit worked the puck around the zone, ending in a Reilly Smith pass to Meszaros who launched a rocket that beat Louongo. The credit for the goal at the moment goes to Soderberg, as the replay shows some kind of deflection, but it's so close that it looks like it hit off of Louongo, and not off Soderberg's leg. It looked to me like it was off Louongo, so we'll see if they change the scoreline to Meszaros.
That's all that was doing in the goal department for the second. The same can't be said about the third period.
A five-minute span saw a four goal flurry unleashed, starting with Torey Krug's 13th at 7:38. Patrice Bergeron found Brad Marchand as he skated through the neutral zone and into the Panthers' end. Krug jumped up from his defensive spot and found the crease in the defense, received Marchand's flip pass and pulled the moves to beat Louongo under the pads. Krug faked one way and pulled it back to the backhand to trip up Bobby and put the B's up 2-1.
CJ30 picked up his 13th W (via P.Carter)
Bergeron put the Bruins up 3-1, again on the powerplay, with his 18th of the season at 11:21. The B's had great pressure the entirety of the powerplay, and they cashed in on their efforts. Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson worked the action around the net, as Soderberg's initial shot was saved. The rebound found Eriksson below the icing line, and he fed Bergeron who fired the one-timer that beat Louongo.
But the Panthers didn't quit, and Jimmy Hayes got his second of the game 22 seconds later. With three players in white sweaters around the net, the puck somehow trickled through a maze of skates and slipped past Johnson, with Hayes being the last Panther to touch the puck.
Aaand the Bruins came right back the other way! Jarome Iginla scored his 20th of the season and 550th career goal in his career 23 seconds later, beating Louongo on the stick side with a blazing wristshot. Zdeno Chara broke-up the Panther breakout in the neutral zone and found Milan Lucic as he entered the zone. With David Krejci drawing the defense, it opened up the space for Iginla to sneak in down the middle and rip the puck past Louongo. Chris Kelly got the empty-netter to give the Bruins the five-spot on the day and cap off the afternoon on a high-note.
It's an impressive win for Boston, as they take both legs of the back-to-back in the Sunshine state. After playing in a high-speed affair last night vs Tampa, complete with OT and a lengthy shootout, to play less than 24 hours later and come out winners again is a great achievement for the club.
The Bruins complete their three-game road trip when they take on Montreal on Wednesday night.
Montreal added Freddy KrugerTomas Vanek at the trade deadline, and if history plays out the way it always has with Vanek, expect him to light the lamp (probably more than once) vs Boston.
Daniel Paille got dinged up after a hit by Panthers captain Ed Jovanovski very early on in the first, and he did not return to the game. We're still waiting official word on what the injury is.
The B's special teams finally cashed in after a four-game drought, scoring twice with Soderberg and Bergeron.
Boston swept both season series' between the two Florida clubs, going a perfect 9-0-0.
Jarome Iginla is the second Bruin to crack the 20 goal mark, joining Brad Marchand (21). Milan Lucic (19) Reilly Smith (18)and Patrice Bergeron (18) will all join them in the not-to-distant future. David Krejci (16) even has a pretty good shot to hit the mark as well.
The five game winning streak is the best the Bruins have had
The Bruins win gives them 89 points, putting them in first place over the Penguins who have 88. Boston has played one more game than the Pens, who next play tomorrow at Washington.