Milan Lucic completed a hat trick with two goals 15 seconds apart and Shawn Thornton added another 1:09 later, giving Tuukka Rask more than enough support for his first win of the season.
Rask did it in style too, making 41 saves for the shutout as the Bruins improved to 11-5-1. They’ll be back at the Garden looking for a fourth straight win on Saturday when the Los Angeles Kings come to town.
Third Period, 16:06, Bruins 4-0: Shawn Thornton gets in on the scoring explosion as he bangs in one from in front to extend the lead to 4-0.
That’s the fourth of year for the tough guy, who’s an assist shy of the Gordie Howe hat trick.
Third Period, 14:57, Bruins 3-0: Make that three goals for Milan Lucic in this one, as he cleans up a rebound of a Bergeron shot from the top of the crease to put this one away.
Lucic nets the hat trick with two goals just 15 seconds apart.
Third Period, 14:42, Bruins 2-0: Milan Lucic strikes again, scoring his second of the night to give the Bruins a huge insurance goal.
Lucic flies down the right wing and picks the top far corner with a shot past Vokoun.
Third Period, 14:09, Bruins 1-0: Mark Recchi dropped the gloves for the first time in six years in the last game at the Garden, and Bryan McCabe has the veteran winger a little upset again as they collide in front of the benches going off for a change.
No fisticuffs this time, but an angry glare from Recchi as McCabe heads to the bench after the bump.
Third Period, 11:29, Bruins 1-0: We’ve topped 70 shots in the game and there’s still just one goal on the board.
Florida has a 38-33 edge in shots, but Rask hasn’t allowed anything to get by him.
Third Period, 10:13, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins are sending out an extra center for key draws in their own zone. Bergeron is out with Campbell and Ryder to start this shift.
Bergeron went to bench and Marchand came on after the draw.
Third Period, 9:05, Bruins 1-0: Horton with a bid down the slot, but Vokoun flashes the glove for a save down low to deny his ex-teammate.
Third Period, 7:39, Bruins 1-0: Rask is just 12:21 away from his first win of the season, but the Bruins certainly aren’t making it easy for him.
They’ve given him just one goal to work with, while he’s had to face 33 shots already.
Third Period, 6:16, Bruins 1-0: Some wild action on this penalty, with Florida getting the better chances short-handed.
Chris Higgins was in alone on a breakaway, but missed the net, and Rask flashed the glove to rob Bryan Allen.
In between, Horton hit a post and Seguin missed an open net on a rebound at the left post.
Third Period, 5:08, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins finally get another power-play chance, as Cory Stillman is called for interference.
Third Period, 4:40, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins put some pressure on Vokoun there, as Boychuk fires in a shot from the point and Caron tries to shovel the rebound in off the goalie from behind the net, but Vokoun ties the puck up.
Third Period, 2:27, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins’ penalty kill comes through again, as Chara returns to the ice.
Boychuk delivered a big hit on Booth during that kill, as he is showing no signs of favoring the forearm in his first game back.
Third Period, 0:27, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins will face an early challenge in the third to hold onto this lead, as Chara is sent off for tripping Stephen Weiss in the opening minute, giving Florida its fifth power-play chance of the night.
Third Period, 0:00, Bruins 1-0: The final frame is under way here at the Garden, with the Bruins looking to close out a third straight win.
Boston is 9-0-0 when leading after two periods this year, while Florida is 0-5-0 when trailing heading into the third.
Second Intermission Notes: The Bruins held tight to their 1-0 lead in the second, but couldn’t extend it as Rask and Vokoun are locked in an entertaining goalies’ duel.
Johnny Boychuk got to play a bit more in the second, as he’s now up to 10:55 on the night with one shot.
Nathan Horton also has just one shot (plus an assist) in 9:35 against his old team, while Greg Campbell has a shot, a blocked shot and is 5-5 on faceoffs in 12:55.
Dennis Wideman has played a game-high 18:26 in his return to Boston, with three shots, three hits and one giveaway.
End Second Period, Bruins 1-0: And 40 minutes are in the books now, with the Bruins still clinging to a 1-0 lead.
There was no scoring in the second, but plenty of chances. Rask has stopped all 29 shots he’s faced, while Vokoun has allowed just one goal on 26 shots.
Second Period, 18:10, Bruins 1-0: Campbell sends Mike Weaver limping to the bench after hitting him in the leg with a shot. The ex-teammates haven’t been easy on their old mates, as Wideman earlier hit Bergeron with a shot.
Second Period, 16:40, Bruins 1-0: Marchand barrels down the right wing with speed for a scoring bid, but Vokoun turns the shot aside.
The clubs have combined for 52 shots so far, but only one has found the back of the net.
Second Period, 13:20, Bruins 1-0: Chara lines up Wideman for a big hit at the blue line, but doesn’t quite get all of him.
The crowd does start a brief “Dennis, Dennis” chant as Wideman skates to the bench.
Second Period, 12:15, Bruins 1-0: Thornton sprays Vokoun with snow as the Florida goalie ties up the puck for a whistle. No response from any of the Panthers on the ice to the move, which usually guarantees at least a few shoves in response.
Second Period, 11:08, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins can’t cash in on their power-play chance either.
The second unit on Boston’s revamped power play was Lucic, Seguin, Wheeler, Chara and Boychuk.
Second Period, 9:08, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins will finally get a chance on the power play, as Bryan McCabe gets called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
First power-play unit for B’s features Horton, Ryder, Recchi, Bergeron and Seidenberg as Boston tries to get something going on their slumping power play.
Second Period, 7:30, Bruins 1-0: Interesting shift for the Bruins, with Seguin getting a turn between Lucic and Horton on the top line.
It’s likely just because of all the special-teams play with the Bruins’ penalties, but still good to see the youngster rewarded with a shot to play with some top finishers for a shift.
Second Period, 5:47, Bruins 1-0: The Panthers once again can’t convert on the power play. They’re now 0 for 4 on the night.
The Bruins have an excellent PK, but they can’t afford to keep giving Florida chances with the man-advantage.
Second Period, 5:05, Bruins 1-0: Scary sight there as Booth’s shot knocked the mask right off Rask’s head, with Santorelli crashing the crease at the same time.
Rask appears fine and stays in the game.
Second Period, 3:47, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins killed off that penalty, but go rigght back on the kill again as Bergeron is sent off for hooking.
Second Period, 2:42, Bruins 1-0: Thornton just returned to the bench after serving his fighting penalty. Hordichuk did not report to the box to start the period and is not on the bench.
Both fighters appeared to be bleeding after the very spirited scrap, and Hordichuk may have been more seriously hurt.
Second Period, 1:23, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins will have another penalty to kill as Mark Recchi is whistled for interference. This is Florida’s third power play of teh game so far.
Second Period, 0:13, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins have killed off the rest of Wheeler’s penalty and are back at full strength as the second periods is under way.
First Intermission Notes: The Bruins and Panthers aren’t playing like a couple of teams that battled for hard-earned win less than 24 hours ago.
There was plenty of energy and scoring chances in that opening 20 minutes, and so far Tuukka Rask has been the difference. He’s stopped all 16 shots he faced, including a couple spectacular saves.
Milan Lucic, meanwhile, continues his offensive tear with the game’s lone goal. That’s his eighth goal and 15th point in just 17 games this year.
As for the principals in this summer’s big trade, Dennis Wideman played 7:50 in the first with one shot, and this should be familiar to Bruins fans, one giveaway and two attempted shots blocked. Nathan Horton picked up a helper on the goal, but it was a bit of an accidental assists, as he lost control of Lucic’s drop pass, then Lucic regained the puck and put it home. Horton had one shot and is a plus-1 in 4:15. Greg Campbell had no shots in 6:23 and is just 2-3 on faceoffs.
Johnny Boychuk played just 3:47 in the first with one shot in his return to the lineup
End First Period, Bruins 1-0: The first period is in the books, and the Bruins have the all-important first goal as they head int the break up 1-0.
The Panthers nearly tied it in the closing seconds as Mike Santorelli had a chance in front, but Rask came up with another stop.
Florida has a 16-11 edge in shots and will open the second with 13 seconds left on its power play.
First Period, 18:13, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins are back on the penalty kill again, as Blake Wheeler goes off this time for a high-sticking minor.
First Period, 16:31, Bruins 1-0: The gloves are off, and it’s a heavyweight affair between Shawn Thornton and Darcy Hordichuk.
This was a long one with both players landing some serious blows in a back-andforth struggle.
First Period, 15:37, Bruins 1-0: The Bruins strike first, as Milan Lucic opens the scoring on a goal from Horton and Bergeron.
Lucic carried the puck into the zone and dropped it for Horton. After Horton lost control, Lucic regained control and fired it in past Vokoun from the right wing.
First Period, 12:35, 0-0: Tuukka Rask is on his game tonight, as he slides across the crease to rob Booth on a one-timer from the right slot off a feed from Rostislav Olesz.
Best save of the night at either end by far.
First Period, 9:50, 0-0: The Panthers nearly get on the board twice in one shift, as David Booth sends one in off Rask’s glove and just wide, then Jason Garrison rings the post a few seconds later.
First Period, 7:35, 0-0: Patrice Bergeron, who took a Wideman shot off the leg in his first shift and briefly went to the locker room, is back taking his regular shift on the top line for the Bruins.
First Period, 5:59, 0-0: The Bruins kill off that penalty without too much trouble and now go back to even strength.
First Period, 3:59, 0-0: The Bruins will be short-handed as Brad Marchand gets called for goalie interference after crashing into Vokoun.
That led to some jawing with Wideman as it looked like the old teammates might actually have a go, which surely would have thrilled the Garden crowd.
First Period, 3:10, 0-0: It was an eventful first shift back for Boychuk, who made an end-to-end rush and nearly set up Seguin in front, then slipped and fell coming back to defend in his own zone.
First Period, 1:30, 0-0: Zdeno Chara pinches in way deep into the Florida zone to put a hit on Michael Frolik.
Bruins look to have decent legs to start this one despite playing back-to-back nights. Of course it helps that Florida is also playing its second game in as many nights as well.
First Period, 0:00, 0-0: The Bruins will open with former Panther Greg Campbell up front between Brad Marchand and Michael Ryder, with fellow ex-Panther Panther Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Stuart on defense.
Florida counters with old friend Dennis Wideman, who should get an interesting reception, and Bryan Allen on defense, and Chris Higgins, one-time Bruin Marty Reasoner and Radek Dvorak up front.
Tuukka Rask and Tomas Vokoun are the goalies.
7 p.m.: The Bruins have finalized their roster for tonight, and Johnny Boychuk will make his return in this one.
Adam McQuaid sits out on defense, while David Krejci (concussion) remains out up front.
Florida has scratched Michal Repik and inserted enforcer Darcy Hordichuk back into the lineup for a little extra toughness against the Bruins.
6:30 p.m.: Tuukka Rask and Tomas Vokoun lead their respective clubs out onto the ice for warm-ups, so that would appear to be the goaltending matchup for this one.
Tim Thomas will get a well-deserved rest, while Rask will get a shot to finally earn his first win of teh year.
Johnny Boychuk is also out for warm-ups again, but his status is still undetermined at this point as the Bruins have seven defensemen skating in warm-ups.
6 p.m.: About an hour to go until game time here at the Garden, and warm-ups should be unde way shortly.
That will give an indication of Johnny Boychuk’s status for this one, as well as the goaltending matchup we will see.
4 p.m.: With the Bruins and Panthers both playing Wednesday night, neither team held a full morning skate on Thursday.
That leaves the goaltending matchup still up in the air, while injured Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk is also in limbo. He will once again be a game-time decision as he tries to get back in the lineup for the first time since suffering a fractured forearm against the Rangers on Oct. 23.
While they didn’t skate in the morning, Bruins forwards Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell did speak with the media and discussed playing their old team for the first time.
Also check out our Facing Off feature for a full breakdown of this matchup.
8 a.m.: There’s no rest for the Bruins, as they return home to face Florida on Thursday.
But after finally ending their three-game home losing streak with a 3-0 win over the Devils on Monday, then earning a 3-2 road win at New York on Wednesday, the Bruins are probably content to keep playing to ride this momentum for as long as possible.
The Panthers come in relatively hot themselves, having won four of their last six games, including a 2-1 victory in Atlanta on Wednesday.
There will be plenty of familiar faces on both sides as the Bruins and Panthers have been involved in two big trades in the past year. Boston acquired defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the Panthers last March at the trade deadline, and this year picked up forwards Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell in exchange for defenseman Dennis Wideman and a first-round pick. It will be the first regular-season game for Horton, Campbell and Wideman against their old clubs, though some of the strangeness of the encounter will be muted by the fact that the Bruins and Panthers played twice in the preseason.
This game means a little more. The puck drops at 7 p.m., so check back here throughout the day for updates on all the action.