Final: Boston 4, Florida 1
Recap: Slowly and steadily, the Black and Gold built an insurmountable lead over the visiting Panthers Tuesday. That began when David Krejci was the recipient of a Tom Gilbert turnover 7:29 in, as No. 46 capitalized by snapping a shot from the slot up high and past Tim Thomas. Less than four minutes later, Jordan "Showcase Showdown" Caron got out of the box and set up a Jarome Iginla goal.
In the second, Krejci scored from virtually the exact same spot to make it a three-goal game with 48 seconds left to go until the intermission.
Florida cut the lead to two with 7:13 to go, as a shot from Brian Campbell deflected off of Matt Bartkowski's stick and past Chad Johnson. Krejci was able to get the hat trick, burying one into an empty with 14 ticks left in the contest.
Records: Boston (39-17-5, 83 points); Florida (23-32-7, 53 points)
Key Play of the Game: In the final minute, before Krejci netted his third tally, Iginla attempted a shot from the neutral zone but couldn't find twine. If he did, no dirty hats would've hit the TD Garden ice.
Connolly's Commendations: I suppose we'll start with the man who got tricky. Krejci -- as well as linemates Iginla and Milan Lucic -- has been on absolute tear, which began before the Olympic break. The Czech pivot now has 19 points in the last 15 games, including six multipoint efforts.
Kudos to the posts positioned behind Johnson throughout the contest. They denied the Panthers four times, which is practically as many saves as the B's netminder had to make (21).
Though he took two penalties, Caron deserves a proper stick salute, hat tip or golf clap -- the choice is yours, dear reader -- for putting his 23-game point drought to bed in his first game action since January. No. 38 had an assist, was plus-2, was second on the team with four hits and had three shots on goal in 12:18 of ice time.
Connolly's Critiques: Chris Kelly was the only Bruin without a shot? Yeah, I got nothin'. It was a pretty perfect game from start to finish for the Black and Gold.
Notes: Kevan Miller earned an assist on Iginla's goal, giving him his first point in 21 games. ... Thomas, who made some impressive stops throughout the night, finished with 35 saves on 38 shots. ... Krejci's hat trick is the first by a Bruin since March 2012. The last player to score three goals in a regular-season game for Boston was Krejci himself, in a win over the Devils.
Final Thoughts: The Panthers are a hockey team that isn't very good at hockey. Florida never looked like they were in this game physically, offensively, defensively, you name it. Their fluke playoff appearance in 2012 seems like forever ago. But, at least things will be interesting the rest of the way with Roberto Luongo -- reacquired in a deal with Vancouver -- back in town.
Next: The Bruins will host the Capitals, again, on Thursday night.