Final: Boston 5, Florida 2
Recap: Despite absurd territorial dominance and a 12-7 edge in shots on goal, the Bruins weren't able to find twine in the opening 20 minutes, as they headed into the first intermission in a scoreless tie against the Panthers.
In the second, Jimmy Hayes (Dorchester, Mass.) opened the scoring seven minutes into the frame, staking Florida to a 1-0 lead on his sixth goal of the season. Less than three minutes later, Bruins newcomer Andrej Meszaros put a shot on net during a man advantage and found its way home while Carl Soderberg was screening Roberto Luongo (who claimed he was interfered with but had his objection overruled).
In the third, Brad Marchand set up Torey Krug in the slot for a go-ahead goal. Patrice Bergeron put them up by two with 8:39 left in the contest, tallying on the power play to pick up his third point of the night. Florida struck back just 29 ticks later, with Hayes poking home a loose puck through Chad Johnson's five-hole for his second of the night.
Just 29 seconds after Hayes made it 3-2, Jarome Iginla got open in the high slot and had all the time in the world to fire a shot past Luongo's blocker, making it 4-2. Chris Kelly closed out the scoring with an empty-netter.
Records: Boston (42-17-5, 89 points); Florida (24-33-7, 55 points)
Key Play of the Game: Iginla's goal was the ultimate kick in the pants for the Panthers, who had just cut the lead to one. Their comeback effort pretty much came to a screeching halt after that.
Connolly's Commendations: Nice job by Meszaros in his B's debut. The Slovakian blueliner spent a good chunk of time alongside his countryman, Zdeno Chara, and tallied on one of his team-high six shots on net.
We seem to wind up praising Soderberg after every game of late, but it was another big performance from the Swedish forward. He earned the primary assist on Bergeron's power-play goal, helping the B's go 2-for-4 on the man advantage.
Saving the best for last: Bergeron led the way with three points, notching a goal and two assists. Two of those points came in the third, helping Boston pull away from the Panthers.
Luongo kept this game from becoming a full-fledged blowout, making countless key stops throughout the first 40 minutes. If only his teammates had brought the same effort.
Connolly's Critiques: It was a pretty flawless showing for the Bruins. Even the goals Johnson allowed are hard to find fault with.
Notes: Iginla's goal was his 20th of the season and the 550th of his career. Up next on the all-time list is Johnny Bucyk (556). ... Dan Paille left the game early in the first after being hit by Ed Jovanovski in the corner.
Final Thoughts: The Bruins closed off their nine-game schedule against the two NHL teams from Florida with a 9-0 record. Think that just about sums up what was accomplished this weekend.
Next: The Bruins have off Monday and Tuesday. They'll return to action Wednesday when they face the Canadiens.