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Friday, October 18, 2013

Tim Thomas Came Back For This?

When NESN's broadcast opened tonight with shot of an empty BB&T Center only a few minutes before the opening faceoff, you realized that this event wasn't as nearly charged as you hoped it would be: Tim Thomas (37 saves) made his first start against the Bruins but he'd probably like to forget it as the Panthers lost 3-2.

Reilly Smith helped Boston (4-2-0) avoid overtime and a pretty bad choke job by scoring a clutch goal with 59 seconds left in regulation. His first of the season was assisted by Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug. It never should have been that tight since the B's opened up a 2-0 lead on Florida (2-6-0) in the first period but cruised until the Panthers scored one in the second and one in the third to tie it at two.

Like most of his teammates, Tuukka Rask (27 saves) wasn't at his best. The Panthers are so bad that they drag you down to their putrid level if you're not careful. Daniel Paille scored 3:45 into the game, his first of the season, from Dennis Seidenberg (who sprung him) and Matt Bartkowski. This looked headed to blowout city as Dougie Hamilton added a power play goal, also his first of the season, at 12:47 from David Krejci and Zdeno Chara.

Kris Versteeg gave the Panthers some life with a goal at 12:32 of the second period. All hell broke loose, well not really, when something called Jesse Winchester (which totally sounds like a porn name) poked in a loose puck with six minutes left in regulation. Circle November 7, that's when Thomas will make his first depressing appearance at TD Garden for Florida. Seeing him toil in obscurity in Sunrise, FL was a painful reminder of how much fortunes can change in professional sports. How the mighty have fallen if you will.

This was the first game of a three-game road trip by the B's. They are in Tampa Bay (5-2-0) on Saturday (7, NESN) against the Lightning (who they beat 3-1 in the season opener). They have to clean things up against them because if they have as many lapses and defensive mistakes, the Lightning could actually make them pay unlike the Panthers who struggle to do anything positive.

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