End of game, Bruins win 2-1: Great job by Blake Wheeler who draws a penalty to Domenic Moore, all but killing any chance the Panthers have at tying the game. And as I write that, Tim Thomas robs Jordan Leopold at the buzzer to save the win!
After a shaky start, Thomas was there when it counted, especially on that last Leopold bid at the end. But the Bruins just got their third straight win because they came together as a team, got back to basics and won with a collective workmen-like effort. In the first period, they played as if the win would come easy and let the play come to them. But they once again realized that their bread and butter is going to the dirty areas and generating chances off physical tenacity.
Michael Ryder had one of his better games of the season, notching a goal and playing a better two-way game along the boards. Also, impressive offensively was the growing chemistry between Marc Savard and Marco Sturm as evidenced on the game-winning goal. Always great to see the "Sturmy" face that the German winger makes when he scores but even better is to see the blazing speed that leads to that end result.
Derek Morris played 17:53 in his first game back since Dec. 18 but did look a bit shaky at times. But once again Andrew Ference picked up the slack and played another solid game.
Thanks for joining us here at our Live Bruins Blog and Happy Holidays!
Third period, 5:28, Bruins 2-1: The Bruins are going to be shorthanded for the third time as Daniel Paille just slashed Nathan Horton as Horton broke in on Tim Thomas. Thomas made a great stop but he will need to make some big ones here to preserve the lead. The Panthers are 0-for-2.
Third period, 8:36, Bruins 2-1: Scott Clemmensen is keeping the Panthers in this game as he just stoned the Bruins on at least three good scoring chances. The Bruins have stolen the momentum and are buzzing out there.
One has to consider too that the trade for Daniel Paille earlier this season has to be one of the better but underrated deals in the NHL this season. Kudos to Peter Chiarelli.
Third period, 15:21, Bruins 2-1: For the second time in three games, Marc Savard has sprung the speedy Marco Sturm to the net and Sturm has buried the puck in the back of the net. The Bruins now have their first lead of the game.
The two linemates connected the same way for a goal in Ottawa and if they can make this a habit, utilizing Sturm's speed with Savard's vision, the Bruins may finally have that top line duo they're looking for.
Third period, 18:35, 1-1: Underway in the third period and guess what line was creating chances right away? The Daniel Paille-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi line is playing one heck of a game.
End of second period, 1-1: The Bruins played a much better second period and are tied at one with the Panthers as a result.
They were generating more chances and attacking more. That Michael Ryder goal was a clear result of hustle and getting back to basics. That is what the Bruins always need to be doing. Right now, they're not a team that is going to beat anyone with finesse. They need to get the gritty and dirty goals to win. They outshot the Panthers 10-7 in the second frame and when you shoot, you score.
In the defensive zone, the Bruins got more physical and Tim Thomas calmed down, holding on to the puck and not allowing as many rebounds. Andrew Ference also deserves a lot of credit, not just for getting that shot off that led to Ryder's goal but also for stepping up when Dennis Wideman and Derek Morris were out. He has continued that solid play as they returned.
Second period, 1:56, 1-1: Byron Bitz is in the penalty box for holding and the Panthers are on their second power play. They're 0-for-1.
The Panthers could've been called for a penalty as well with Kamil Kreps hauling Andrew Ference down right in front of the referee.
Second period, 3:58, 1-1: Michael Ryder just tipped in an Andrew Ference shot from the point and the game is tied at one.
David Krejci had the secondary assist.
Second period, 7:14, Panthers 1-0: Patrice Bergeron just tried a spin-a-rama ala Denis Savard beating defenseman Bryan Allen but not Scott Clemmensen.
Bergeron is really having a great season and deserves the serious consideration he is getting from Hockey Canada GM Steve Yzerman.
Second period, 10:19, Panthers 1-0: Zdeno Chara really struggled to control the puck and keep it in the offensive zone for the Bruins on that power play and they're 0-for-1.
Second period, 12:35, Panthers 1-0: Domenic Moore is headed to the sin bin for hooking and the Bruins are headed onto their first power play.
Second period, 14:59, Panthers 1-0: Michael Ryder broke in with David Krejci thanks to a nice pass from Blake Wheeler but elected not to shoot the puck or pass it. Easier said than done, but Ryder needs to get at least a shot off there.
Second period, 19:09, Panthers 1-0: Underway in the second period and another good start to the period for the Daniel Paille-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi line.
End of first period, Panthers 1-0: Not a good period for the Bruins as they look like they had too much holiday food or adult beverages over the last two days.
Tim Thomas looks very shaky out there as he is failing to control the puck and allowing too many second and sometimes third chances. He needs to buckle down or this could turn into a long night for him and the Bruins.
Derek Morris looked decent in his first period of hockey since Dec. 18 in Chicago. He played 5:59 and had one hit.
The Bruins as a whole need to get it together in the second period. The Panthers are better than most give them credit for and they will capitalize on chances if you give them away like the Bruins were that period.
First period, 1:01, Panthers 1-0: Daniel Paille just got denied on a breakaway by Scott Clemmensen and the Bruins failed to put in the rebound. A bit of a quick whistle there by the referee.
The Bruins also killed off another power play as their penalty kill continues it's dominance.
First period, 3:30, Panthers 1-0: Mark Recchi is in the penalty box for holding and the Panthers are on their first power play.
First period, 5:50, Panthers 1-0: The Bruins seem to playing a prevent type of game now. With the exception of that Mark Recchi shot to start the game, the Panthers appear to be the ones attacking more and controlling the flow of play.
First period, 12:27, Panthers 1-0: This game and the one at Tampa Bay tomorrow had 'trap game' written all over them. The Bruins are coming off the holiday break in a warm setting against two teams behind them in the standings. And then of course have the Winter Classic at the end of the week. Recipe for disaster.
First period, 15:51, Panthers 1-0: Domenic Moore just beat Tim Thomas with a shot Thomas should've had and the Panthers are up 1-0 early.
Radek Dvorak and Jordan Leopold had the helpers.
Thomas let a bad angle shot squeeze through his pads there and definitely would like that one back.
First period, 18:14: Underway in the first period in Sunrise and Mark Recchi already had a good scoring chance but was denied by Scott Clemmensen.
4:43 p.m.: Tim Thomas will get the nod in net for the Bruins tonight, starting his third straight game. Our apologies for prematurely naming Tomas Vokoun as the starter for Florida as former Boston College standout Scott Clemmensen will actually start for the Panthers.
Claude Julien is definitely trying to allow Thomas to find that groove in net because while he was brilliant in a 29-save performance shutout in Ottawa last Monday, he was a bit shaky in the 6-4 win over Atlanta Wednesday. Thomas made 25 saves on 29 shots. Julien probably figures the more starts he gets, the more that Thomas will find his game. Thomas is 9-8-5 with a 2.50 GAA and .915 save percentage with four shutouts.
Derek Morris will return to the Bruins lineup paired up with Matt Hunwick. Here's the rest of the Bruins lineup:
Steve Begin–Marc Savard–Marco Sturm
Daniel Paille-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–David Krejci–Michael Ryder
Shawn Thornton –Vladimir Sobotka–Byron Bitz
Zdeno Chara–Dennis Wideman
Andrew Ference–Johnny Boychuk
Matt Hunwick–Derek Morris
1:41 p.m.: The Bruins (18-11-7, 43 points) are in Sunrise Florida for an early evening tilt (5 p.m. NESN) with the Panthers (16-16-7, 39 points). Boston is looking for it's third straight victory after dropping four straight.
No word yet on who may start in net for the Bruins, but expect Tomas Vokoun (11-11-7, 2.62 GAA, .922 save percentage, three shutouts) between the pipes for the Panthers. Vokoun made 40 saves in a 1-0 shootout win over the Bruins at TD Garden on Nov. 12.
The Bruins blue line will get another boost as Derek Morris returns after missing the last three games with an undisclosed injury.
Stay with us here as we'll be live blogging the Bruins at Panthers in our NESN.com Live Bruins Blog.