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Bruins beat Panthers behind Milan Lucic hat trick and Tuukka Rask shutout

11.18.10 at 9:30 pm ET
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On a night that was seemingly all about Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, Milan Lucic stole the show with his second career hat trick in a 4-0 Bruins victory over the Panthers at TD Garden.

Lucic and the first line provided the majority of the offense for the Bruins, beating Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun on a goal assisted by former Panthers third overall pick Nathan Horton. He added another from virtually the same spot in the third and made it a hat trick seconds later, stuffing in a rebound to make it 3-0. With the game, Lucic reached 10 goals, surpassing Horton (8) for the team lead. Shawn Thornton added his fourth of the season at 16:04.

Tuukka Rask hadn’t been getting consistent play in front of him to begin the season, so he made it a little easier on teammates, shutting out the Panthers. It was his first victory of the season. Rask stopped all 41 shots he saw, frustrating a busy Panthers offense and improving his record to 1-4-1.

“You know, you play five, six games and you feel like you are playing good and the puck is not bouncing our way,” Rask said after the game. “That’€™s all it is and that’€™s what I said before, just keep working hard and good things will happen and today they did.”

The victory improved the Bruins’ record to 11-5-1. They are now 4-4-1 in home games and 4-3-1 in games played at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Uh, Lucic. Lucic. And Lucic again.

- It took much longer than one would have expected on, say, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. Prague Time, but Rask finally got his first win of the season. Entering the night, Rask was 0-4-1 in five games, but he had played well enough to win on a few occasions, notably the team’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Blues on Nov. 6.

- Brad Marchand may be a pest to other trash-talking players, but on Thursday he was even more of a pest to Vokoun. The third-line winger led the B’s with five shots on goal. The total tied his career high, which he reached last season on Nov. 1 against the Rangers.

- A top line missing its center is like a rock band losing its lead singer — you just assume it won’t be the same. Yet with David Krejci out, Patrice Bergeron has channeled his inner Sammy Hagar/Ronnie James Dio and proven that the first line can be fantastic with him in the middle.

For the second straight game, the line was able to manufacture a well-executed goal on the opening tally. Of course, Vokoun should have been able to stop Lucic’s first one, which he took after receiving a drop pass from Horton, but it was the latest example of how well these three are starting to play together.

- Once again, the penalty kill came up big for the Bruins. A night after killing off a 5-on-3 late in a one-goal game in New York, the Bruins kept the Panthers off the board despite being shorthanded five times throughout the night.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The power play only got two chances, and it didn’t see anything come of them. Bryan McCabe went off for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second and Cory Stillman was called for interference at 5:08 of the third. In not converting, the Bruins now have just one power play goal in their last five games.They’ve had 18 opportunities. Hard to think they’re not missing Krejci in that respect.

- Rask was sensational, but that didn’t mean he had to face as many shots as he did. David Booth usually gets a lot of pucks on net, but he had 11 shots through the first two periods. All in all, the Panthers put 41 shots on Rask, 12 of which came off the stick of Booth.

The most shots on goals the Bruins have allowed this season is 46, which Tim Thomas faced on Nov. 6 against the Penguins.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask,

Bruins holding onto lead after two periods

11.18.10 at 8:35 pm ET
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The Bruins have picked up the pace offensively, but still lead the Panthers, 1-0, following a scoreless second period.

Tuukka Rask has saved all 29 shots he’s seen, while the B’s put 15 shots on Tomas Vokoun in the second to bring their total to 26. Brad Marchand leads the B’s with five shots on goal.

After killing off the remaining 12 seconds of the Blake Wheeler minor that carried into the second, the B’s found themselves shorthanded twice more thanks to penalties to Mark Recchi (interference) and Patrice Bergeron (hooking). The Panthers are 0-for-4 on the power play, while the B’s are 0-for-1.

Bruins lead Panthers after one

11.18.10 at 7:42 pm ET
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Milan Lucic scored his eighth goal of the season at 15:37 of the first period, and it’s a 1-0 Bruins lead after 20 minutes.

Nathan Horton dropped it for Lucic at the face-off circle, and Lucic took it from there, beating Tomas Vokoun top shelf. Patrice Bergeron also picked up an assist on the play.

The Panthers came awfully close twice in the middle of the period, with a David Booth shot trickling off Rask’s glove but falling wide of the net, and Jason Garrison firing one that hit the post. Later in the period, Booth took a pass in front from Rostislav Olesz, with Rask getting in position and making a fantastic save.

Shawn Thornton and Darcy Hordichuk provided the fighting for the period, squaring off at 16:31 in a twist that left Thornton with a bloody nose. The lone injury scare of the period when Patrice Bergeron took a Dennis Wideman shot off the foot, but he returned to the ice.

Florida is outshooting the Bruins, 16-11. The Panthers are 0-for-1 on the power play, with 13.2 seconds remaining on a high sticking on a high stick call on on Blake Wheeler.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask,

Johnny Boychuk in for Bruins

11.18.10 at 7:04 pm ET
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Johnny Boychuk is making his return to the Bruins’ lineup as the B’s take on the Panthers on Thursday night. Based on warmups, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Ference – Chara

Hunwick – Seidenberg

Stuart – Boychuk

Boychuk had been out since Oct. 23 with a fractured forearm. Tuukka Rask is in net for the Bruins.

Read More: Johnny Boychuk, Tuukka Rask,

Johnny Boychuk a game-time decision for Bruins vs. Panthers

11.18.10 at 12:37 pm ET
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Those who are looking for news regarding Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk are in for some mild disappointment, because there isn’t any.

“It’s the same thing as last night,” Claude Julien said Thursday morning. “He’ll be a game-time decision.”

Boychuk has been out with a fractured forearm since Oct. 23rd and has been practicing with his teammates in anticipation of an eventual return. He and Marco Sturm were the only Bruins to skate Thursday morning, as the team studied video while fellow rehabbing players David Krejci and Marc Savard were given the day off.

It was noted by Boychuk on Wednesday that he hasn’t been given the opportunity to endure physical contact given the nature of his on-ice sessions. Once he does return, his coach understands that he might not be in mid-season form, and that minimizing the effect that it could have on the team is key.

“It’s about limitations. He went on the ice again this morning and went through the things that we were concerned about. I think it’s more about that than anything else,” Julien said. “At one point, [he's] going to have those kinks out, but right now our schedule is not helping us out with so many games. You’re preferring to give your team — because the team goes before the individual — you want to give them some rest in order to give yourself the best possible chances of winning a hockey game. If we wait for the right opportunity to give him a practice, we might be waiting even longer.”

Read More: Johnny Boychuk, Marc Savard, Marco Sturm,

Tim Thomas, Bruins beat Rangers

11.17.10 at 9:21 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Tim Thomas picked up his 10th win in 12 starts this season as the Bruins defeated the Rangers, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, and Mark Recchi each scored on Henrik Lundqvist, who had picked up a win on Oct. 23rd against the B’s in Boston. Recchi’s goal, his second of the season, was a real softie, as he lobbed a wrist shot on net that Lundqvist, hugging the post, let slip through ever-so-slowly.

The Bruins will return to the Boston on Thursday, where they will face the Panthers at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Here’s another occasion on which it feels appropriate to check in on Milan Lucic’s pre-season target of 20 goals for this year. Lucic was limited to 50 games last season due to injury, and he made a point of it to aim for his first 20-goal campaign. Lucic now has seven goals in sixteen games, putting him on pace for about 36 goals this season.

That’s not to say that Lucic will nearly double his estimation for the season. Two of the tallies have been empty netters, and Lucic would need to play 82 games, something he’s never done in his career.

- Tyler Seguin had not been playing his best hockey entering the night, but he provided a reminder that when given the opportunity to showcase his offensive wizardry, it sure is fun to watch. Seguin hadn’t scored since Oct. 30th against the Senators, but he snapped that streak when he stole a puck at his own blue line from Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy, flew through the neutral zone, and went top-shelf on Henrik Lundqvist.

- Thomas was sensational once it became a one-goal game in the third, making a couple of huge saves on Gaborik, one of which came when he pushed a Gaborik’s wrister back with his blocker. The B’s also killed off a two-man advantage late in the third.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The B’s were 0-for-3 on the power play, and they’ve really cooled off with the man advantage. After Wednesday night’s game, the Bruins are 1-for-16 on the power play in their last four games.

- Marian Gaborik continued the tear he’s been on, beating Thomas stickside in the third period to make it a one-goal game. It was Gaborik’s fifth point in his last three games.

- The Bruins were very sloppy with the puck in the first period. Very short passes in the neutral zone made it tough for them to muster much pressure, but luckily the Rangers came out just as sloppy in a scoreless first period.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin,

Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic have Bruins leading Rangers after two

11.17.10 at 8:32 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Tyler Seguin scored his fourth goal of the season (his first since Oct. 30th) and the Bruins lead the Rangers, 2-1, after two periods.

Seguin stole a puck from Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy, took it through the neutral zone himself, and beat Henrik Lundqvist top shelf for the tally.

Brandon Dubinsky has hurt the Bruins enough this season, but that didn’t stop the Rangers’ forward from making it even worse on the B’s. Dubinsky, who fractured Johnny Boychuk’s forearm with a slash on Oct. 23 in Boston, drew a Nathan Horton double-minor for highsticking, and put the Rangers up, 1-0, on the ensuing power play.

Horton would make up for his costly penalty, setting up Milan Lucic’s seventh goal of the season, a game-tying tally from the slot.

The Rangers are outshooting the Bruins, 20-15, through two periods.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin,
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