Reilly Smith scored for the Boston Bruins with 59 seconds remaining in the third period to give his team a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Tim Thomas picked up the loss but made 37 saves in his first start against his former team.
The Panthers fell behind early conceding a goal to Daniel Paille 3:45 into the first period. The Bruins doubled their lead at 12:47 in the first on the power play when a Dougie Hamilton point shot found its way through a crowd and past Thomas.
Florida continued to display their never-say-die attitude as they fought back from the early deficit to eventually tie the game at two goals apiece. In the second period Kris Versteeg scored his second goal of the season finishing off a nice pass from Jonathan Huberdeau after defenseman Tom Gilbert made an excellent play to hold the offensive blue line.
At 14:00 into the third period Jesse Winchester tied the game 2-2 with his first goal of the season. With the puck sitting in the Bruins crease, Winchester put on a show of tenacity swatting at the puck a number of times before eventually poking it above the outstretched pad of Tuukka Rask. Nick Bjugstad was credited with an assist on the play, the first of his NHL career.
The Bruins ramped up the pressure following the Panthers tying goal. Thomas held his ground making a number of excellent saves to keep the game tied but with less than a minute left Reilly Smith found a way to sneak a puck through Thomas’ five hole and into the back of the net. The goal was the first of the season for the 22-year-old Smith.
Tuukka Rask was strong in net for the Bruins making 26 saves on 28 shots. With the win the Bruins improve to 4-2-0 while the Panthers fell to 2-6-0.
This and That
- Jonathan Huberdeau was all over the place for the Panthers tonight. His stick handling abilities are something special. There is no space too tight for Huberdeau to handle the puck in. With the assist on the Versteeg goal, he now has four points in the Panthers last five games.
- Shawn Matthias showed what he can do with his combination of size and skill. On two separate occasions tonight he fought off a number of Bruins to create strong scoring chances out of absolutely nothing. While he does not have a goal yet this season, if he continues to work the way he has these last few games the goals will start to come.
- In his first game back from a groin injury that sidelined him for the last four games, Tim Thomas was absolutely stellar. The Panthers were sloppy on defense for most of the night but were continually bailed out by Thomas making big saves.
The loss to the Bruins tonight was the first game of a six-game home stand for the Panthers which continues on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. Share your thoughts about the game in the comments section below and follow The Rat Trick on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest.