Bruins beat Panthers 2-1 in Thornton’s return to the Garden
|Photo by Eliot J. Schechter via NHLI/Getty Images|
Boston and former teammates all admitted to feeling the loss of Thornton’s character in the locker room, but as it was with Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference before, any emotions the B’s had towards their friend were forgotten as soon as the team hit the ice.
David Krejci was sitting with a hip injury that he was dealing with to start the season. Claude Julien said Krejci was day-to-day and that they were expecting Krejci to be back on the ice soon. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski sat for the third game in a row as a healthy scratch, with Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow still slotting in for an injured Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara.
The Panthers showed speed and good defense in the first, despite the Bruins outshooting them 9-6 with under six left in the first. The first period ended with neither side putting the puck in the net, making it clear that goals tonight will be rare and earned.
Due to bad defensive decision-making by Boston, Florida was able to get on the board first, with 2014 first overall draft pick Aaron Ekblad beginning a sequence that led to Jussi Jokinen putting one past Tuukka Rask from the high slot. Patrice Bergeron was able to counter-attack quickly, scoring his first goal in twelve games to tie the game for the Bruins. In one of his only mistakes in the game, an Ekblad turnover led to Bergeron’s goal. With a little over six minutes left in the second, Adam McQuaid was sent to the box for holding. Thanks largely in part to a great penalty kill shift by Loui Eriksson, the Bruins were able to kill the penalty. The Bruins next best chance came from a 2-on-1 with Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith, but Griffith couldn’t produce off of the centering pass. Roberto Luongo then made another sprawling save as Marchand tried to put it home down low after being fed by Smith. After 40 minutes, the game remained tied 1-1.
Bergeron’s line had a strong shift early in the third, with a drive from defenseman Joe Morrow breaking Shawn Thornton’s stick. Bergeron chased the rebound, but Luongo was able to come up with the save. The Bruins applied the pressure fast and often in the third, with a handful of chances – most notably, from Brad Marchand - coming halfway through the third. Despite good pressure from the Bruins, the game headed into overtime.
Brad Marchand scored his fifth goal of the season to give the Bruins the 2-1 win in OT.
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