Christmas Comes Early, Bruins Blow Out Panthers

The Boston Bruins gave their fans an early Christmas present last night when they beat the Florida Panthers by a lopsided 8-0 score. The Panthers, who had come into the TD Garden earlier this month and shut out the Bruins 2-0, looked like a completely different team this time around.

Brad Marchand started the scoring early in the first when he beat Panther’s goalie Jose Theodore with a quick snap shot for a shorthanded goal. Milan Lucic added a power play goal about fourteen minutes into the first. The Bruins were looking real good. With a minute and a half left in the period Benoit Pouliot scored the prettiest goal of his Boston career. Off a faceoff win in their own zone, Pouliot collected a pass from Chris Kelly and was off to the races. He skated down the left wing, and into the offensive zone, he deked Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov by stickhandling the puck through his legs and collecting the puck on his backhand and firing it past Theodore as he was falling to the ice. That goal gave Pouliot a three game goal streak, and put the Bruins up three in the first. Thirty one seconds later, Dennis Seidenberg scored his first goal of the season on a slap shot. The Bruins, who are the league’s best 5 on 5 team, had scored four goals in the first period and none had been on 5 on 5 play. Both Pouliot and Seidenberg’s goals had been scored during 4 on 4 play. The Bruins went into the locker room with a comfortable 4-0 lead.

The Panthers, hoping for a better outcome, switched goaltenders at the beginning of the second period, replacing Theodore with Scott Clemmensen. Unfortunately for the Panthers the switch would not help. Gregory “Soupy” Campbell scored his third goal of the season less than four minutes into the period. Even though the Bruins had already scored five goals you could just tell they weren’t done scoring yet. Erik Gudbranson of Florida was called for a cross checking penalty at the 15:14 mark of the second and on the ensuing power play, Patrice Bergeron scored on a tip in, to make it 6-0.

The third period scoring started early, when Marchand scored his second goal of the night less than two minutes into the third frame. If Marchand’s friends and family get slightly used hats for Christmas this year it’ll be because halfway through the third period Marchand completed the hat trick and scored his third goal of the night on snap shot that beat Clemmensen. The Boston ice was littered with Bruin Santa hats as the TD Garden faithful chanted “Merry Christmas!”

Overshadowed by the Bruins putting up a snowman’s worth of goals, Marchand’s hat trick, and Pouliot’s highlight reel goal, is the fact that Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who is turning into a real Grinch lately, has not allowed an opponent to score in the last 155:10 of play, or roughly two and a half games. Rask stopped all 31 shots he faced last night.

The Bruins will get to enjoy the next four days off and will face the Phoenix Coyotes on December 28th. The game against Phoenix will be the start of a short three game road trip for the Bruins that will see them square off against the Coyotes, the Dallas Stars, and the New Jersey Devils.

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