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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bruins Blank Hapless Panthers 3-0, Retake No. 2 Seed In Eastern Conference

The Bruins were far from perfect this afternoon at TD Garden but the margin for error is a bit wider when you play the worst team in the NHL-the Florida Panthers. Boston (27-12-5) beat Florida (13-26-6) 3-0 at TD Garden for a season sweep (3-0-0) which puts them back in first place in the Northeast Division. The B's are tied with the Canadiens, each has 59 points but Boston has four games left whereas Montreal has only three.

Any point is important and furthermore, every win is extremely vital since Boston had been 0-3-1 in their last four games. They are still struggling to score goals, one today was an empty-netter, but Tuukka Rask (28 saves; 18-9-4) snapped out of his personal funk with his fourth shutout of the season.

Would you believe me if I told you that Jaromir Jagr has been the Bruins' best offensive player since they acquired him from Dallas? He opened the scoring today at 3:03 with a sweet wrister from the slot, assists to Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg (first NHL point). It was Jagr's second goal for Boston, the first that didn't go off his skate and 16th this season combined between the Stars and Bruins. In nine games with Boston, Jagr has two goals and six assists.

Rookie Dougie Hamilton has been in and out of the lineup recently to get some rest before the playoffs. He scored his fifth goal of the season at 13:33 of the second period when his blast from the point bounced off the bar in the back of the net and popped out. Shawn Thornton had the lone assist.

Boston's second line has been by far its best all season and they were rewarded with some points in garbage time as Brad Marchand notched his 18th goal of the season on an empty-netter from Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron.

UPDATE 4/22: Nathan Horton will miss tomorrow night's game in Philadelphia as well after sitting out on Sunday.

The Bruins fittingly wrap up this warp speed regular season with four games this week: at Philadelphia on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., NESN), home against Tampa Bay on Thursday, at Washington on Saturday and home against Ottawa on Sunday. They need to win the next two games since the Flyers (20-22-3) and Lightning are not going to the playoffs. The Capitals and Senators could still be fighting for playoff positioning plus it's back-to-back so the weekend promises to be difficult.

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