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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the land of blue hairs, Bs come away with their 1st shootout win of the season

The Florida Panthers are one of those special franchises in pro sports that is too easy to make fun of. Between their location, non-existent fan base and pathetic jerseys, you almost feel bad for them.

Despite a slow start to their five-game road trip, the Boston Bruins (19-11-4) did just enough to come away with a 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers (16-17-1) last night at the BankAtlantic Center, for their first shootout victory of the season.

As always this season, this win started and ended with Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (32 saves). He not only leads the NHL in goals against but also save percentage which I believe pushes him to the front of the line in terms of most valuable player in the league at the moment (sorry Sidney Crosby).

The two points simultaneously vaulted Boston into a first-place tie with Montreal in the Northeast Division while also carrying over their fine play from last Thursday against the Thrashers.

Other than Thomas, the stars for the Bruins were David Krejci (2 goals), Michael Ryder (2 assists) and Blake Wheeler (1 assist, only shootout goal). Yes, I just wrote that sentence. Perhaps Boston's most frustrating trio have been reunited on a line (they were great together in 2008) and so far, the returns are very positive.

After a scoreless first period, Panthers forward David Booth scored at 1:02 of the second period thanks to a misplayed pass from Bs defenseman Steven Kampfer. Michael Frolik assisted on Booth's shot which was a snipe from close range that Thomas didn't have much time to react to.

Krejci responded with the tying goal at 9:05 in the second. After fine work and shots from Zdeno Chara and Ryder, Krejci was able to get his backhander past Florida goaltender Scott Clemmensen (40 saves).

Panthers forward Mike Santorelli scored a controversial goal later in the second period when he seemed to tip Frolik's shot from the point with an obvious high stick. Surprisingly, the goal stood with Bryan Allen picking up the other assist.

It looked like a classic Bruins road no-show as more than half of the third period had gone by and Florida still led 2-1. However, Krejci stepped up (for one of the only times so far this season) and scored a pretty backhander off an equally gorgeous feed from Wheeler and Ryder at 10:35.

Boston carried play in overtime but couldn't pot the winner. Thomas stopped all three Panthers shooters he faced in the shootout (of course) and Wheeler scored after Tyler Seguin was stuffed.

The Bruins will need to play much better tonight as they travel to Tampa Bay to face the high-scoring Lightning, co-leaders of the Southeast Division with the Washington Capitals.

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