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Blake Wheeler scores in shootout to lead Bruins past Panthers 12.27.10 at 10:09 pm ET
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Blake Wheeler beat Scott Clemmensen for the only goal of the shootout, and Tim Thomas improved to 17-4-3 as the Bruins defeated the Panthers, 3-2, on Monday night in Florida.

David Krejci provided the Bruins with two goals, beating Clemmensen on a rebound in the second period and finishing with on the back-hand in the third. Michael Ryder received assists on both goals, while Wheeler and Zdeno Chara each had a helper.

David Booth and Mike Santorelli each had goals for the Panthers in the second period. Santorelli’s was reviewed to determine if his stick was above crossbar height when he redirected a Michael Frolik shot from the point.

With the victory, the Bruins jumped into third in the Eastern Conference, as they now have 42 points, tied with the Canadiens for most in the Northeast division. The B’s are now first in the division, as they have played 34 games to the Habs’ 36. The Bruins will face the Lightning in Tampa on Tuesday night.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– A couple of unflattering streaks were broken on Krejci’s first goal. It was the 24-year-old center’s first goal in five games and his first point in three games, while the assist for Chara was his first point in seven contests.

It was the Krejci’s fourth career two-goal game. He now has seven goals on the season.

– The members of the Wheeler – Krejci – Ryder line seems to be enjoying their reunion. The line was the Bruins’ most consistent of the night and had solid opportunities in each period.

Krejci led the Bruins with six shots on goal, while Ryder was second with five.

– It’s hard to believe that with all he’s done this season, Thomas had one of his best showings in a game in which he allowed two goals, but he truly kept the Bruins in the game. Thomas came up big on breakaways for Chris Higgins and Marty Reasoner and was sound on odd-man rushes.

Perhaps the save of the game came with just over two minutes left, with Thomas diving across the net to stop Dennis Wideman off a pass from Booth.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– Rookie Steven Kampfer had a blunder that cost the the Bruins for the first time. The 22-year-old Michigan product turned it over in his own end, leading to David Booth — who is dangerous enough when he isn’t handed opportunities — bearing Thomas with a snap shot.

– The Lucic – Savard – Horton line didn’t fare quite as well as Krejci’s, as Horton and Savard were the only Bruins on the ice for both Panthers goals.

– The Bruins had a couple of avoidable penalties called against them. Chara went off for a dive in the first, while Thomas was called for delay of game when he played the puck outside of the trapezoid late in the second period.

Panthers lead Bruins, 2-1, after two 12.27.10 at 9:03 pm ET
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After some back-and-forth, as well as some video review, the Panthers are leading the Bruins, 2-1, heading into the third period.

After a Steven Kampfer turnover in the Bruins’ end led to David Booth scoring his ninth of the season on a snapshot, Tim Thomas came up big in stopping Chris Higgins on a breakaway.

David Krejci scored his first goal in five games when he whacked a rebound off a Michael Ryder bid past BC product Scott Clemmensen. Zdeno Chara, whose slapshot set up the initial rebound to Ryder, picked up his first point in seven games.

Michael Frolik snapped one off from the point that was redirected by Mike Santorelli and past Thomas. The play was reviewed to determine whether Santorelli’s stick was above cross-bar height and was ultimately ruled a goal.

Bruins, Panthers scoreless after one 12.27.10 at 8:11 pm ET
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The Bruins and Panthers are scoreless after one, with the B’s outshooting Florida, 12-10.

Panthers right wing Bill Thomas had the only penalty of the period, a goaltender interference call at 16:23. With 18 seconds remaining on the power play, Zdeno Chara was hooked by Marty Reasoner but was called for a dive.

Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, and Dennis Seidenberg led the Bruins with two shots apiece. Given Chara’s penalty, Seidenberg (8:21) and Steven Kampfer (7:12) led the B’s in ice time.

Bruins at Panthers preview 12.27.10 at 4:46 am ET
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The Bruins are coming off perhaps their most monumental win of the season, a 4-1 victory over the Thrashers that featured the grit and emotion the team had lacked over its previous 1-3-1 stretch.

The B’s play the next five on the road, starting with Monday’s matchup with the Panthers. The Bruins have won both games against Florida this season, most recently grabbing a 3-1 victory at BankAtlantic Center behind two goals from Mark Recchi on Nov. 24.

WHERE IT’S AT

– The Panthers are 7-6-0 at BankAtlantic Center this season, though they probably feel as though they don’t know the place anymore with the way their schedule has been. Nine of their last 12 games have been played on the road. They’re 2-4-0 in their last six home contests dating back to Nov. 22.

– The Bruins are 9-5-1 on the road and have dropped their last three away from the Garden.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

– The Panthers are the only team in the NHL to not have an overtime loss this season. The Bruins have come away with the single point in four contests.

Milan Lucic has gone without a point in three straight games for the first time this season. His last point came on Dec. 16 in Montreal, a third-period power play goal. Despite his mini-slump, he continues to lead the Bruins with 16 goals.

– Each of the Bruins goaltenders have put together impressive performances vs. the Panthers this season. Tuukka Rask grabbed a shutout on Nov. 18 at the Garden, while Tim Thomas allowed on goal on Nov. 24th. Florida is the only team that both Bruins goaltenders have beaten.

– The Bruins have allowed 35 shots or more in seven games in December. If David Booth comes close to the 14 shots he had against the Bruins on Nov. 18, they might be in for a high shots allowed total again.

STORYLINES GOING IN

– The biggest question for this Bruins team is how they can sustain what they did Thursday for an entire road trip, and then beyond that. They have Tampa Bay Tuesday, followed by a rematch against the Thrashers on Thursday. If the Bruins want to carry momentum from their victory last Thursday they will need to kick off the road trip with a win over the Panthers.

– The Bruins have not sat Tuukka Rask for five straight games yet this season. Tim Thomas has started the last four, and has had such a stretch only twice this season. It might make sense for Rask to get the nod against the lowly Panthers, which would avoid overwhelming Thomas with three starts in four days, but reports out of Florida suggest Thomas will be between the pipes.

– The Bruins benefit greatly from the fact that Lucic was not suspended for Monday’s game. This way, they can take their time with bringing Brad Marchand (soreness) back and not have to summon an extra forward while they’re away. Claude Julien told reporters Monday that Marchand will not play.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask,
Brad Marchand returns to practice with Bruins 12.26.10 at 2:27 pm ET
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Injured Bruins forward Brad Marchand (soreness from Dec. 16’s P.K. Subban hit) made a step Sunday toward his eventual return to the lineup when he skated with teammates in practice for the first time since leaving last Saturday’s game vs. Washington.

Marchand had skated with fellow injured Bruin Mark Stuart (hand) on Thursday morning, but Sunday marked the 22-year-old’s first full practice with the team since the Washington game. The undersized winger was in the lineup for the bout with the Capitals but left in the second period after feeling too uncomfortable from Subban’s hit on him two days prior.

Coach Claude Julien told reporters on hand for Sunday’s practice in Wilmington that the team has yet to determine whether he’ll be able to go on back-to-back days, as the Bruins will face the Panthers on Monday and the Lightning on Tuesday.

The uncertainty over Marchand’s status is also tied to the other Bruins news of the day. The fact that Milan Lucic will not be suspended after receiving a match penalty on Thursday night means the team could play Daniel Paille in Marchand’s place without having to call up an extra forward for the team’s five-game road trip.

Milan Lucic not suspended for punching Freddy Meyer, gesturing to Atlanta bench 12.26.10 at 1:19 pm ET
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Bruins left wing Milan Lucic will not be suspended after sucker punching Thrashers defenseman Freddy Meyer in the head and gesturing to the Atlanta bench in the third period of the B’s 4-1 victory at TD Garden on Thursday. He will instead receive fines totaling $3,500.

Lucic had received an intent to injure match penalty for punching Meyer after the Thrashers defenseman hit Lucic high, a hit deemed dirty by all Bruins skaters on the ice, as a line brawl broke out between the two teams. The match penalty carries with it an automatic suspension pending a review, and after Lucic met with NHL vice presidents of hockey operations Mike Murphy on Sunday, it was determined that he will not miss any time.

Following is the statement released by Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli:

‘€œThe NHL has informed us that Milan will not be suspended as a result of the match penalty assessed to him during our game against the Thrashers last Thursday. He will be fined $2,500 for the punch thrown in the scrum and $1,000 for making an obscene gesture directed at the Thrashers bench. He will join the team on the flight to Florida and be available for Monday’€™s game against the Panthers.’€

Read More: Freddy Meyer, Milan Lucic, Peter Chiarelli,
That’s what Christmas means to Zee: A look at European Bruins’ traditions 12.24.10 at 6:10 pm ET
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The Bruins gave fans an early Christmas with a statement-making win on Thursday, but when it comes to the Black and Gold, there’s plenty about Christmas that the average Bostonian doesn’t know. David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, and Dennis Seidenberg spoke to WEEI.com about what Christmas is like in their native countries.

Here’s a look at each player’s customs and holiday memories:

DAVID KREJCI: STERNBERK, CZECH REPUBLIC

Santa who? Jezisek (pronounced “eshishik”) is the man, er, boy for the job back home for Krejci. Czech for “Child Jesus,” Jezisek is a child who delivers gifts to families, much like St. Nick would in these parts.

As is the case in Europe, Krejci’s family is all done with sharing gifts by the time the 25th rolls around.

“We have dinner on the 24th, and right after, we open gifts, so Christmas is the 24th,” Krejci said.

Given his years in juniors and now in the NHL, Krejci, like his European teammates doesn’t get to celebrate Christmas back home.

“It’s been a long time since the last time I was back home for Christmas,” Krejci said. “I guess I’m used to it. It still sucks that you’re not with your family, but I’m getting older and it’s been a long time, so I guess I’m getting used to it now.”

Teammate Tyler Seguin, like many North American kids in the ’90’s, remembers asking for Power Rangers toys and all things Barney. Over in Sternberk, then a part of Czechoslovakia, Krejci couldn’t think of anything but his future career.

“When I was growing up I always wanted skates, hockey sticks, and all the cool stuff that was really expensive that I couldn’t afford,” Krejci said. “So I asked my parents. I never got it, but I was excited for it anyways.”

TUUKKA RASK: SAVONLINNA, FINLAND

What do Rask and Santa Claus share in common? Nothing, besides the fact that they hail from the same land.

“Santa Claus is Finnish,” the 23-year-old goaltender told a now-enlightened WEEI.com. It’s a fact that can be confirmed here.

Aside from that interesting tidbit and opening presents on the 24th (“That’s the only thing I’ve known, ever since growing up”), Rask doesn’t think his time on Christmas as a child is too dissimilar from that of an American.

“The food is different,” Rask, who remembers meals of ham, salmon, and bread, said. “I think every family has their different traditions, but to stay at home and be with the family, that’s the same everywhere.”

DENNIS SEIDENBERG: VILLINGEN-SCHWENNINGEN, WEST GERMANY

The biggest difference that Seidenberg notices between the States and West Germany around the holidays is level to which it’s taken.

“It feels like there’s a lot more toys under the Christmas tree here,” said a smiling Seidenberg. “It’s just a lot more done-up, it seems, than in Europe.”

A traditional Christmas meal is also different from in the USA, and from the countries of his European teammates.

“We eat a lot of duck with cabbage, mashed potatoes, and stuff like that,” Seidenberg said.

The Bruins will practice on Sunday, which probably wouldn’t take place over in West Germany. After eating and opening presents on the 24th, they get the 25th and 26th off as Christmas holidays.

ZDENO CHARA: TRENCIN, SLOVAKIA

While Krejci had Jezisek and Rask had Santa Claus, the Bruins’ captain grew up with both.

“One thing we have is Santa — that’s ‘Mikalas’ — and then whoever brings the presents is Jezisek,” Chara said.

Chara shares Rask’s logic that despite the differences between the countries, there’s no cultural differences (hey, remember those? Those were funny!) when it comes to the most important part of the holidays: family.

“It’s pretty much the same as over here,” Chara said. “We all get together, the families gather together and want to spend it together. We have a nice dinner, and in Europe we open the presents on the 24th at night.

“As far as everything else, it’s almost the same. We have different food traditions for dinners. You guys have different over here, but I think the atmosphere around Christmas is pretty much the same.”

Happy holidays from the Big Bad Blog and WEEI.com.

Read More: Christmas, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Tuukka Rask
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