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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bruins Beat Panthers 3-2 to Go Up Six Points on Florida (With 5 Games Left)

It wasn't an instant classic by any means but the Bruins still managed to get exactly what they needed on Tuesday at TD Garden: a 3-2 regulation win vs. Panthers. Boston (39-25-13) survived a poor second period, where Florida (35-27-15) outscored them 2-0, to score the last two goals of the game in the third period. Rookie David Pastrnak tied it at two with a deft tip-in and Milan Lucic was the hero, potting the game-winner with 1:09 left in regulation. The B's closed March on a modest three-game win streak and with seven points in their past four games.

Loui Eriksson gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 16:57 of the first period and simultaneously scored his 20th goal of the season (for the 5th time in his career and 1st as a Bruin). It was a beautiful goal as he waited for Roberto Luongo (26 saves) to go down before lifting a backhander over him from a very tough angle. Carl Soderberg had the lone assist.

I don't know what it is about the second period but it seems like Boston has always played poorly in them this season. Brandon Pirri tied it at one with a power-play snipe from the point, 55 seconds into the frame. Brian Campbell and BC's Jimmy Hayes had the assists on Pirri's 21st goal of the season which was a one-timer that went top-shelf on Tuukka Rask (22 saves).

Former Bruin Brad Boyes made it 2-1 Florida at 12:37 after a total breakdown by Boston. Matt Bartkowski had the puck hop over his stick in the Panthers' end, Boyes skated in on a partial breakaway and squeezed it under Rask's leg pads. Boyes' 13th goal of the season was unassisted and although Bartkowski deserves most of the blame, Rask should make that save in a game of this magnitude.

The Bruins were pressing for the tying goal in the third period and leave it to their 2015 Seventh Player award winner (handed out before tonight's game) to come through with the huge goal. Spooner put the puck on net and Pastrnak was close to the goal but still got a piece of it to fool Luongo just enough. His 11th goal of the season was also assisted by Lucic. The big guy scored one of the most important goals of Boston's season by causing a turnover then having the confidence (and power) to beat Luongo with a low but hard shot from inside the blue line that went split two Panthers defensemen. Milan's 18th goal of the season was assisted by Pastrnak and Spooner.

Now Boston has 91 points while Florida is stuck with 85, each team has five games left so the Panthers really are in a deep hole here. Ottawa (38-26-12) rallied for a 2-1 shootout win in Detroit (40-23-13) which means that the Bruins didn't gain any more distance between them and the Senators but they are only two points behind the Red Wings. Wouldn't you know that the B's are in Detroit on Thursday (7:30, NBCSN) for another huge contest between Atlantic Division rivals. You have to love this time of year!

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