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The Boston Bruins just keep on rolling.
The Black and Gold beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 Friday night, extending their winning streak to three games. The Bruins have now won 8 out of their last 9 games, and are 11-1-1 in their last 13. With the victory over Florida, Boston moves into sole possession of 1st place in the Eastern Conference.
Phil Kessel opened the scoring for Boston, taking a feed from Marc Savard and deking Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun on a breakaway just 2:46 into the first period. The tally was Kessel’s team-leading 10th strike of the season.
David Booth evened the score for Florida 6 minutes later, beating Tim Thomas upstairs with a wrist shot. Initially ruled no-goal, the decision was overturned after replays showed the puck beat Thomas and found the twine.
Boston answered quickly however, as Patrice Bergeron tipped a Matt Hunwick shot past Vokoun to give Boston the 2-1 advantage at 10:01 of the 1st.
In the 2nd, center David Krejci put Boston ahead 3-1, showing good patience on a 3 on 1 break. Krejci slowed the play down, delivered a pass to linemate Chuck Kobasew, and banged a rebound home on Kobasew’s subsequent one-timer. The goal was Krejci’s 5th of the season.
Less than two minutes later, Boston again capitalized, this time on the power play. With Panthers rookie Michael Frolik whistled off for 4 minutes for high-sticking, Boston’s suddenly-potent offense went to work. The Bruins showed good puck movement on the man-advantage, and Bergeron fired a shot on Vokoun, and the rebound found Savard alone in the slot, where the high-scoring center was able to fire a shot past the Vokoun to give Boston a 4-1 lead with 9:26 gone in the 2nd.
The action got a bit testy thereafter, as Milan Lucic and former Bruin Nick Boynton went toe-to-toe in a bout at the 11:42 mark of the 2nd. Lucic tagged Boynton with a number of right hands, bloodying the defenseman, who had to go off for repairs after the fight.
Later in the frame, Aaron Ward got mixed up with Florida defenseman Keith Ballard, after the Panthers blueliner threw a questionable hit on Savard in front of the Boston bench. Savard was noticeably roughed up, appearing to take a hard blow to his knee. He saw little action thereafter. Ward was assessed a double-minor for roughing, but the Panthers woeful power play was unable to muster much offense in mounting a comeback.
The Bruins continued clogging the skating lanes in the 3rd period, and Florida failed to generate much offense until late in the frame, with many Boston regulars resting for tomorrow’s tilt with Montreal. Ville Peltonen put a rebound past Thomas with 16:54 gone in the 3rd, but Florida would get no closer, as Boston extended it’s home winning streak to 7-0-0. They are scoring five goals per game in that stretch.
Boston takes on Montreal tomorrow night at the Bell Centre. The puck drops at 7:00 pm, with coverage beginning at 6:30 on NESN.