The Boston Bruins were lucky to escape with a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night in front of a sold out TD Garden.
Boston got off to a fast start leading 2-0 after goals by Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, but after that the Black and Gold sat back again and played a terrible second period, they put the nail in the coffin with two late goals in the third period by Shawn Thornton and Patrice Bergeron (empty netter-second of night).
The Panthers were not backing down from the Bruins even after they fell down 0-2 early on in the first period. Opening the second period with a penalty, it looked like the B’s were going to go up 3-0, but a quick turn of events occurred as Shawn Matthias scored a short-handed goal beating Tuukka Rask with a nifty move to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Black and Gold did not have it in the second period at all. They looked lazy, were making bad decisions with the puck and had bad turnovers in the neutral zone which against a good team could hurt them tremendously. It was like night and day in comparison to the first period.
Head coach Claude Julien passed Milt Schmidt on the Bruins all-time wins list tonight, but concentrated on his teams play on the evening.
“Yeah, I absolutely thought it was an ugly win,” Julien said. “We didn’t play that well tonight, we got a little bit better in the third, but you know, some nights you don’t seem to be in sync and lately we’ve been a little off our game. Certainly not the way we want to play, certainly not our best games, let’s put that it way.”
After struggling for a period and a half, Thornton finally gave the Bruins a little breathing room after a gritty shift with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. He stayed with his initial shot and buried a goal past Scott Clemmensen to give the two-goal lead at 12:43 of the third.
“My linemates did a good job of getting the puck in, Piesy was skating, he made a good draw pass to me and I was going to shoot, but I looked up and there was someone in the lane and then the goalie was kind of challenging so I tried to hang on to it, throw it on ice, hopefully it will bang off something and or to one of my line-y’s, but it ended up banging off something,” Thornton said. “I just happened to be by myself so whatever I’ll take them any way I can get them.”
Rask recorded his 14th victory of the season and played very soundly; keeping the B’s in the game during the second period.
Rask talked about how this game was tough, but how the team hung in and grinded out another victory.
“Yeah, no easy, especially after the first 10 minutes,” said Rask, who made 29 saves Thursday night. “I think they took it to us. Got a lot of shots and the second period was what it was for us. Thank goodness we still had the lead after that, but pretty tough game.”
“Yeah, it was big for us, especially after what happened last game, but Florida played well,” Chara added. “I think it was a good challenge. We kind of played with a little bit of hesitation I would say, but then after we simplified our game, we were creating way more chances and it paid off scoring some goals and it was much more comfortable playing after that with our lead.”
The Bruins were very lucky to escape with two points. But as the old adage says: a win is a win.