Florida Panthers

Talking Points from Bruins' 4-1 loss to Panthers: Garden goodbye for Luongo?

Talking Points from Bruins' 4-1 loss to Panthers: Garden goodbye for Luongo?

GOLD STAR: It could have been Roberto Luongo’s final appearance at TD Garden given some of the whispers about an impending retirement for the Florida goaltender. If it was, then he went out on a high note. Luongo stopped 30 shots in a 4-1 win over a team that’s tormented him on the Garden ice many times in the past. He was at his best in the third period as the Bruins furiously tried to rally from a two-goal deficit after a rough start. Instead, Bobby Lou stopped all seven shots that he faced, including a couple of robbery jobs on Brad Marchand once Bruce Cassidy reassembled the Perfection Line with Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Luongo outplayed Tuukka Rask on Saturday afternoon and that’s one of the biggest reasons that Florida was victorious.

BLACK EYE: Rask, on the other hand, was not good on Saturday afternoon and didn’t look sharp in one of his final tuneups before the end of the regular season. He allowed three goals on 14 shots in the first two periods and really looked off his angle on a short-handed strike off the rush from Troy Brouwer in the second period. That goal allowed was a killer for a team that had already given up a pair goals in the first period and didn’t have Rask step up to make a big save when they really could have used one. Certainly, it’s tough to pin all three goals on Rask, but overall he was outplayed by Luongo in this one. Some of the things in Rask’s game this close to the playoffs have to be a concern for the Black and Gold.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins outshot the Panthers by a 16-8 margin in the first period, but still found themselves down by a two-goal deficit after the opening 20 minutes. That’s essentially where the game was lost for the Bruins as they controlled play in the opening 20 minutes, but turned a bad bounce, a defensive breakdown and a juicy rebound from Tuukka Rask into a 2-0 hole after the first period. Once they were down by a couple of goals, the soft shorthanded goal allowed by Rask in the second period was a killer that doused any chances of a comeback. The Bruins seemed to correct their slow starts as of late, but now they’ve had back-to-back lousy first periods against teams playing out the string in the Rangers and Panthers.

HONORABLE MENTION: There wasn’t much to write home about the Saturday matinee loss to the Panthers, but Bruins energy forward Noel Acciari was probably the best thing on the ice for the Black and Gold. Acciari won a one-on-one battle with McKenzie Weegar for position in front of the Florida net and shoveled home a goal for Boston’s only score. He was one of the few B’s players skating with some energy. Acciari finished with the goal in 13:31 of ice time, five shots on net and four hits to go along with the usual scrapping work ethic always provided by No. 55. They could have used a little more of that across the board on Saturday afternoon.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17 – the home point streaks for both Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand that were both snapped in the listless 4-1 loss.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I watched Blaine Lacher get it back in 94…It really means a lot to me.” –Bruins fourth-liner Chris Wagner going in the way-back machine to describe what it felt like to win the Bruins' 7th Player Award. 

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Highlights of the Bruins' 4-1 loss to the Panthers

Highlights of the Bruins' 4-1 loss to the Panthers

FINAL SCORE: Panthers 4, Bruins 1

IN BRIEF: The Bruins fell behind by two goals in the first period and never recovered as Troy Brouwer's short-handed goal in the second and Roberto Luongo's 30 saves led the already-eliminated-from-the-playoffs Florida Panthers to a 4-1 victory that ended Boston's 12-game home winning streak. BOX SCORE
 

BRUINS RECORD: 47-22-9, second in Atlantic, playoff spot clinched.

HIGHLIGHTS:

DADONOV BEATS RASK, 2-0 FLORIDA:

BROUWER'S SHORT-HANDED GOAL PUTS PANTHERS UP, 3-1:

LUONGO GLOVES CHARA BLAST:

FROM JOE HAGGERTY:

*Give credit where it’s due to Joakim Nordstrom and David Backes for somehow ending up a plus-1 in a game where the Bruins lost 4-1 and where most of the B's really didn’t look very good against a Panthers team playing out the string. Aside from them, Noel Acciari was the only other standout as the lone goal-scorer for the Black and Gold. Tuukka Rask wasn’t very good between the pipes, Boston’s best players were on the ice for goals against while not doing much offensively and the D-zone play was poor early in the game when Florida built up a 2-0 lead. Of particular concern to the Bruins should be the bad starts they’ve again gone out to in the past two games after it appeared that they had knocked that out of their game for a while.  

 *Connor Clifton flattened Frank Vatrano as the two players battled for possession of a puck in front of the Bruins bench and knocked the former B’s forward on his butt in the process. Clifton isn’t flashy or tremendously point-productive from an offensive standpoint, but I continue to be impressed by him when it comes to being hard-to-play-against. That is something that could come into play come playoff time when considering lineups for the B’s.

*Chris Wagner is a great choice for the Bruins 7th Player Award this season after it hadn't really gone to role player-types in the recent past. It’s much more in the spirit of the award, IMHO, than last season when it went to first-round pick and rookie D-man Charlie McAvoy. He had a very good season obviously, but the 7th Player had always been about rewarding unheralded types and Wagner has had an excellent season for the Black and Gold. Interestingly enough it was Wagner’s normal fourth-line partner, Noel Acciari, who shined for the Bruins on Saturday afternoon with a goal, five shot attempts and four hits through two periods.  

*Three goals allowed on 14 shots in two periods isn’t what the Bruins want to see out of Rask just a handful of games ahead of the playoffs. The first goal allowed wasn’t his fault as it bounced off a few players in front of the net on its way past him. The second goal allowed featured a couple of wide-open Panthers around the net. But Rask did give up a juicy rebound en route to the second goal allowed after an Aaron Ekblad blast right at him. The third goal was a Troy Brouwer short-handed blast off the rush where the B’s goaltender was clearly off his angle before getting beat inside the far post. 

UP NEXT:
At Red Wings, Sunday, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network
At Blue Jackets, Tuesday, 7 p.m., NESN

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What we learned in the Bruins' 7-3 win over the Panthers

What we learned in the Bruins' 7-3 win over the Panthers

Here’s What We Learned in the Bruins 7-3 win over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center that clinched a playoff spot for the Black and Gold.

1) Zdeno Chara is finally beginning to show some signs of age at 42 years old, but with that age and experience come some pretty great career accomplishments as well. Chara had a special day on Saturday as he signed a one-year contract extension for $2 million plus $1.75 million in incentives that will give him another season in Black and Gold. Then he went out and played 25 plus minutes in a throwback performance while scoring his 200th career goal that puts him in rarified air with only 22 other D-men in the history of the NHL. It’s that kind of offensive production, longevity to go along with being the best shutdown D of his generation that has already punched his ticket to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Last night’s win in Florida that was pushed along by his offense and defensive work was just another reminder of how consistently excellent he’s been in a Bruins uniform since arriving, and how important Chara’s leadership, work ethic and talent have been to Boston consistently being a playoff team during his tenure with the team. It was nice to see Chara show some child-like enthusiasm after he scored as well along with some neat sentiments following the game that the goal was dedicated to his father. "I would like to dedicate this goal to my dad,” said Zdeno Chara to reporters in Florida. “He brought me to hockey and he was always very supportive...last few weeks he was joking about when I was gonna score." Early in his career with the Bruins, Chara was hesitant to share about his off-the-ice life and didn’t really talk all that much about his family. So it’s pretty great to see him sharing those kinds of things with fans, media and his teammates alike as he moves toward the end of a brilliant career with the Black and Gold.

MORE FROM JOE HAGGERTY

2) Noel Acciari is stepping up his game at the right time of year. Acciari has slid back into his fourth line center spot with David Pastrnak’s return to the lineup, and on Saturday night he was centering David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom. Acciari scored his second goal of the road trip when he blasted home a centering pass from behind the net from David Backes in the first period, and then he dropped the gloves for an epic tilt with McKenzie Weegar in the second period. Acciari was channeling PJ Stock during the fight as he just kept throwing windmill left-handed punches in a big flurry until he finally dropped Weegar to the ice in a brawl that really energized the Black and Gold. Acciari finished an assist short of the Gordie Howe hat trick in what would have been a pretty cool thing for the fourth line grinder out of Rhode Island, but Acciari finished with the goal, a plus-1 rating and four shot attempts in 12 plus minutes of energy and physicality.

3) Connor Clifton has been very strong since coming up again to the Bruins from the AHL. On Saturday night he picked up his first point while assisting on the Noel Acciari goal that kicked off the scoring for the Bruins. He also topped 16 minutes of ice time, a plus-1 rating, four shots on net and a couple of blocked shots, and hasn’t looked out of place at all in the late season intensity of the regular season. Clearly Clifton probably doesn’t have a place in the B’s playoff lineup if everybody is healthy, but he’s playing well enough to earn consideration nonetheless given how strong he’s been at both ends of the ice along with a pretty strong workload. The 23-year-old was just as impressive in his first go-round with the Bruins as well, so it wouldn’t shock this humble hockey writer to see him in the B’s lineup should injuries hit at some point during the postseason.

PLUS

*Noel Acciari scored the B’s first goal, manned the middle for the fourth line and dropped the gloves for a memorably ferocious hockey fight with McKenzie Weeger. It’s been a good road trip for the Rhode Island kid.

*Zdeno Chara topped 25 minutes of ice time, scored the 200th goal of his NHL career and did all of that after signing a one-year extension with the Bruins on Saturday morning. That’s pretty good stuff for the 42-year-old.

*Steve Kampfer was actually really good for the Bruins with a goal and five shots on net while maximizing his performance in a little over 12 minutes of ice time. The reserve D-man has been ready to go since he got his recent shot and he deserves credit for that.

MINUS

*The Bruins were 25-for-65 in the face-off circle, which is under 40 percent success and pretty horrendous for the usually very-good B’s men in the middle.

*Henrik Borgstrom was a minus-3, had zero shots on net and was 1-for-6 in the face-off circle while stinking up the joint in under 10 minutes of ice time.

*Two shots on net, three giveaways and a minus-3 rating for Jonathan Huberdeau, who certainly won’t be showing the film of this game to the NHL Awards voters when it comes time for Selke Trophy consideration.  

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