The Bruins have lost four in a row overall for the first time since January 2010, and will find themselves out of first place in the Northeast Division if Ottawa beats Montreal on Friday.
Boston returns home for a St. Patrick's Day matinee against the Flyers Saturday at the Garden. The Bruins desperately need to win that one to put an end to this slide.
Third Period, 17:24, Panthers 6-2: The Panthers add another to put up the second straight six-spot on the Bruins.
Tomas Fleishmann leads the odd-man break down the left side and drops the puck back to Wojtek Wolski in front for an easy goal into an open net.
Third Period, 14:29, Panthers 5-2: The Bruins kill off that penalty and Seidenberg is out of the box. The sides return to even strength, but there's little time left for the Bruins to mount any kind of rally.
Third Period, 12:29, Panthers 5-2: The Bruins now find themselves shorthanded as Dennis Seidenberg is sent to the box for tripping, giving Florida a chance to put this one completely out of reach on the power play.
Third Period, 10:10, Panthers 5-2: Daniel Paille's bid from the right slot is gobbled up by Jose Theodore as this one has passed the midway point of the third period. after an early surge, the Bruins still find themselves down three goals and time is running out for any kind of rally to salvage a game on this road trip.
Third Period, 7:51, Panthers 5-2: The Bruins give up another on a turnover in deep to put the breaks on this comeback attempt.
Chris Kelly attempted to send the puck around behind his own net, but the puck hit Adam McQuaid and bounced right to Tomas Kopecky at the right post, and he buried a quick shot past Tim Thomas.
Third Period, 4:48, Panthers 4-2: The Bruins catch a break after Johnny Boychuk breaks his stick on a one-timer. The Panthers have numbers on the counterattack with Boychuk caught out there without a stick, but Florida is off-sides on the rush.
Third Period, 1:44, Panthers 4-2: The Bruins take advantage of the power play as Brian Rolston scores his first goal in his second stint with the Bruins.
Rolston one-timed a blast from the high right side that hit off Theodore and dribbled over the line to pull Boston within two goals.
Third Period, 1:02, Panthers 4-1: The Bruins will get an early power-play chance to try to get back in this game as Marcel Goc is sent off for tripping Brad Marchand.
Third Period, 0:00, Panthers 4-1: The final frame is under way in Florida, where the Bruins are facing the prospect of a winless road trip and their first four-game losing streak of the season if they can't mount a mighty rally in this period.
Second Intermission Notes: The Bruins avoided another horrible start and came out of the first down just a gaol, but things fell apart quickly in the second as the Panthers extended the lead to 4-1.
After Florida scored in the opening minute, the Bruins appeared to settle down and started creating chances, which ultimately led to their first goal by Joe Corvo. But the Panthers answered less than two minutes later, then added another goal late.
Both of those last two came after Bruins turnovers in their own zone and featured breakdowns in coverage in front as Boston's sloppy defensive play continues. Tim Thomas hasn't shown much improvement in goal either, allowing four goals on 17 shots.
The Bruins also have 17 shots, while leading 34-21 in hits and 22-20 in faceoffs. That just shows how deceiving the statsheet can be. the hits stand out in particular, as the bruins have been physical, but not to that extent. That's an area they actually need to improve upon, along with cleaning up their defensive play, if they want to turn this around.
End Second Period, Panthers 4-1: The middle frame comes to a merciful close, but not before the Bruins found themselves facing another huge deficit as the Panthers answered Boston's lone goal with three more of their own.
Second Period, 15:27, Panthers 4-1: The Panthers add another one as John Madden scores to extend the lead to three goals.
This one started with another turnover in the Boston zone. Jerred Smithson eventually fed it out from behind the net to Madden at the right post, and Madden popped a shot up and over Thomas for the tally.
Second Period, 13:33, Panthers 3-1: The Bruins threaten again with Marchand setting up Seguin in front with a pass from out behind the net, but Seguin sends the bouncing puck up and over the net.
Second Period, 11:32, Panthers 3-1: The Bruins create a chance with some nifty passing in the offensive zone, with Marchand getting the puck back for a bid from the left slot, but Theodore makes the save.
Second Period, 9:23, Panthers 3-1: The Panthers continue to press the attack, with old friend Marco Sturm the latest with a chance at the left post but Thomas manages to turn that one aside before Sturm crashes into the boards.
Second Period, 6:32, Panthers 3-1: The Panthers answer right back and push the lead to two again on a Stephen Weiss goal.
Weiss banged home a rebound in front as he was left uncovered in the slot. The play began on a turnover when Corvo couldn't connect on a pass to start a breakout and Florida regained the Boston zone.
Second Period, 4:53, Panthers 2-1: The Bruins get on the board with Joe Corvo supplying the goal Boston desperately needed.
Benoit Pouliot got the puck up the wall to Corvo at the left point and Corvo sent in a wrister that fluttered high into the goal with Brian Rolston providing some traffic in front.
Second Period, 3:04, Panthers 2-0: The fourth line with a much-needed strong shift for the Bruins, keeping the Panthers hemmed in the zone and creating some decent scoring chances. Now the Bruins need to build off that momentum and try to turn this game around.
Second Period, 0:38, Panthers 2-0: The Panthers double the lead in the opening minute of the second period as Marcel Goc tips one past Tim Thomas in front.
Brian Campbell sent the wrist shot in from the blue line that was deflected in front, and a video review confirmed that it was a good goal.
Second Period, 0:00, Panthers 1-0: The middle frame is under way in Florida, where the Bruins once again have to dig out of an early hole, though this one is just one goal.
First Intermission Notes: The Bruins cleaned up their game for the most part in the opening period, but a couple of questionable penalties helped lead to Boston facing a 1-0 deficit after the first frame anyway.
The Bruins had an 8-6 edge in shots and an 18-8 advantage in hits. They're also 11-9 on draws, thanks mostly to David Krejci being 7-1.
Tim Thomas wasn't tested often, but looked more comfortable than in recent games. There wasn't much he could do on the lone goal, a power-play strike through a screen in front.
End First Period, Panthers 1-0: The opening period has come to a close, and while the Bruins had a better start than in recent games, they still trail 1-0 after a late power-play goal by the Panthers.
First Period, 17:57, Panthers 1-0: The Bruins have allowed the first goal of the game once again as Mikael Samuelsson scores on the power play.
Samuelsson scored from the right circle as Sean Bergenheim provided the screen in front.
First Period, 16:58, 0-0: The Bruins are shorthanded again as Shawn Thornton is called for cross-checking.
First Period, 15:55, 0-0: The Panthers with some pressure on the Bruins, testing Thomas a couple times. He's looked a little more comfortable in the crease in this one after some shaky outings of late.
First Period, 11:50, 0-0: The Bruins can't convert that brief power play after the 4 on 4 situation and all the penalties ar now expired and the sides back at even strength.
First Period, 9:50, 0-0: The Bruins catch a break as Jose Theodore evens up the penalty as he's called for delay of game for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid behind the net.
First Period, 9:09, 0-0: The Bruins will be shorthanded as Brad Marchand goes to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Marchand was actually the victim of a dangerous low hit by Brian Campbell that was not called. Bergeron immediately challenged Campbell, who refused to fight. Marchand was then called for a penalty later in the shift going after Campbell.
First Period, 8:05, 0-0: Pouliot is back out for his next shift after going off in pain when he was hit by some friendly fire on that Corvo blast.
First Period, 4:58, 0-0: The Bruins with the best chance so far as Joe Corvo goes down deep on the right side and centers it out to Chris Kelly, but Kelly is denied at the left post. Corvo then hit Pouliot with a shot later in the shift.
First Period, 3:00, 0-0: After a brief delay to fix a broken pane of glass, action is back under way in Sunrise, Fla.
First Period, 2:53, 0-0: With Seguin back with Bergeron and Marchand, Jordan Caron is now up with Milan Lucic and David Krejci, adding a winger with a little more attention to detail defensively on that unit.
Benoit Pouliot returns to a line with Chris Kelly and Brian Rolston, while the Merlot Line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton remain together.
First Period, 0:00, 0-0: The Bruins' final game of this three-game road trip is under way in a clash of teams trying to hold on to their division leads between Northeast Division-leading Boston and Southeast Division-leading Florida.
7:30 p.m.: The Bruins will open with the reunited line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin up front, with Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk on defense and Tim Thomas in goal.
The Panthers counter with Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss and Wojtek Wolski up front, Brian Campbell and Jason Garrison on the blue line a nd Jose Theodore in net.
7:25 p.m.: Bergeron, McQuaid and Pouliot are all back in the lineup for this one.
Greg Zanon, Mike Mottau and Trent Whitfield are the healthy scratches for the Bruins.
Kris Versteeg, Mike Santorelli and Jack Skille are out for Florida.
7:15 p.m.: Patrice Bergeron, Adam McQuaid and Benoit Pouliot, who are all game-time decisions for this one, each took part in the pre-game warm-ups.
Trent Whitfield and Greg Zanon also skated and will play if the above are unable to go.
7 p.m.: As expected, Tim Thomas led the Bruins out for warm-ups and will be back in net for Boston in this one.
Jose Theodore led the Panthers out and will get the start for Florida.
6:30 p.m.: The Bruins close out their three-game road trip when they take on the Panthers in Sunrise, Fla. in about an hour. They hope to avoid going winless on the trip, and they really can't afford to lose another with Ottawa looming just one point back in the Northeast Division.
The Bruins have won the last two meetings of the season against the Panthers. After falling 2-0 at home on Dec. 8, Boston rolled to an 8-0 win at Garden on Dec. 23 and won a shootout 3-2 in Florida on Jan. 16. The Bruins have actually won five straight in Florida dating back to 2009, but the Panthers come in having won their last three games on home ice.
8 a.m. ET: The Bruins hope they won't be revisiting the winter of 2010. The Panthers would like nothing better.
Boston comes into Thursday's clash in Florida having lost three straight games. They haven't dropped four in a row since a 10-game winless streak back in Jan.-Feb. 2010 when they went 0-6-4, including a stretch of five straight regulation losses. The Panthers have won their last two games and three straight at home. They haven't won four straight home games since Jan. 2010.
The Bruins limp into Sunrise on the heels of a 6-1 loss to the Lightning Tuesday in Tampa, but they have won two of three against Florida this season, including an 8-0 shellacking at the Garden two days before Christmas. The Bruins have also won five straight in Florida, last losing on the Panthers' home ice back on Feb. 21, 2009.
There's plenty of significance to this game for both sides. The Bruins (40-26-3, 83 points) are clinging to the Northeast Division lead, which is down to just one point after Ottawa picked up a point in a shootout loss to Montreal on Wednesday. Boston does have two games in hand on the Senators, but they haven't made very good use of those games in hand of late and will need to get points out of this one.
The Panthers (33-23-13, 79 points) are also one point ahead of Washington for the Southeast Division lead, with Winnipeg five points back. Florida has a game in hand on both the Capitals and the Jets. The Panthers have also pulled within four points of Boston, and could overtake the Bruins for the second seed in the East even if both teams hold on for their respective division crowns.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. Tune in to NESN to watch the game, and stay with the NESN.com live blog, as we'll keep you up to speed on everything happening.
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