Bruins aim to rebound from rare loss in clash with Panthers
The Boston Bruins will try to rebound from a rare regulation loss when they host the basement-dwelling Florida Panthers in Thursday's battle at TD Garden.
The Bruins are 17-4-3 this season, but they ran into a smoking hot Pittsburgh club on Tuesday and saw a three-game winning streak come to an end. The Penguins notched their sixth straight win with a 3-2 home decision at CONSOL Energy Center.
Boston jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on Tuesday, but wound up without a point after Pittsburgh scored three times in just over a four-minute span in the third.
Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin scored for the Bruins, while Anton Khudobin made 31 stops in the disappointing loss.
"We came out really well in the first period and played the way we should have," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "Then we just kind of gave up in the next two periods and let them take over."
Khudobin fell to 4-2-0 this season and No. 1 netminder Tuukka Rask is expected to be back between the pipes for Boston on Tuesday. Rask is 5-1-0 with a 0.98 goals against average in six career games against the Panthers.
Boston downed the Panthers by a 4-1 score on Feb. 24 in Florida and has won three of four and seven of nine in this series. Florida has lost in three of its past four trips to Beantown.
The Bruins are three points behind Montreal for first place in the Northeast and are also fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Florida, which is last in the NHL with 20 points, has lost four straight and seven of its last eight games. The Panthers posted an 0-2-1 mark on their recent three-game homestand and dropped a 3-2 regulation decision Tuesday night against Tampa Bay. Steven Stamkos scored the game-winning goal 5 1/2 minutes into the third period to lift the Lightning to the close win at BankAtlantic Center.
Kris Versteeg, who left in the third period following an apparent right leg injury, scored 13 seconds into the second for the Panthers. If Versteeg can't play on Thursday, he'll join a crowded group of injured Florida players, a list that includes goaltender Jose Theodore, defenseman Ed Jovanovski and forwards Scottie Upshall and Stephen Weiss.
Tomas Kopecky added his 11th goal of the season in Tuesday's defeat and Jacob Markstrom allowed three goals on just 13 shots in the setback.
"We're not really looking at who we're playing, we focus on ourselves and that is the bottom line. The focus in on our group here," Kopecky said.
The Panthers will play six of their next seven games on the road, where the club is just 3-7-1 this season.