The Boston Bruins found a way to get past the Florida Panthers last night in a 2-1 victory at the TD Garden. It's never your typical home game when you pay tribute to a player on the other team, but that's what the Garden faithful got to do last night. It apparently was very emotional for many of the Bruins players that were on the team last year as well. Shawn Thornton is now a member of the Panthers, but received the loudest cheers of the year so far at the Garden as he returned for his first visit in a new uniform.
It was quite evident that Shawn was moved and his fellow teammates were as well and perhaps surprised. The Jumbotron displayed many of the fine highlights of his seven year career in Boston including lifting and sharing of the Stanley Cup in the community. A side note, the Boston Bruins do a very good job when they provide these tributes as the recent John Boychuk and last year's tribute to Tim Thomas come to mind. The fans in Boston always show the love and I believe that's because the team always shows the love to the city in the many things it does on and off the ice. I have to admit, my favorite part was seeing Shawn's parents in the crowd and how touched they were by the love the fans showed Shawn. I also have to praise Gerard Gallant the Florida coach. Thornton is a grinder and fourth liner, but Gallant played Thornton a career high 16:03 of ice time to make the game more memorable to Shawn. I think that's class all around.
After the tribute a hockey game ensued and the Bruins found themselves in a tough grinding game right from the opening face-off. While the Bruins held the advantages in offensive possession time and face-offs, most of the game was played between the blue lines in the first two periods. Both teams played stingy defense and the shot count was low, but the Bruins reached down and found a bit more effort as the third period wore on. They reached the end of regulation and as OT started the electric buzz was in the air. Brad Marchand, playing his best hockey indecent memory over the past 5 games, was the best forward on the ice for both teams last night and was able to put on a move to get a clear hard wrist shot that beat Roberto Loungo to the blocker side to claim the victory for the Bruins.
After a scoreless first period, the Panthers opened the scoring in the second period when Jussi Joking scored from the slot on a feed from ex-Bruin Brad Boyes. About three minutes later off a cycle in the offensive end, Marchand received a touch pass from Reilly Smith and Marchand centered a pass to Patrice Bergeron, who windmilled a shot towards the net that beat Loungo high glove side. Tuukka Rask who only faced 19 shots in the game, was the beneficiary of the Panthers hitting two posts, one with two minutes left in the second period and a seeing eyes shot mid way through the third period. After a scoreless third, Marchand scored his goal in OT off a nice transition pass from Doug Hamilton who seems to have elevated his game since Zdeno Chara has gotten injured. Hamilton topped all Bruins players last night with 26:35 of ice time with two hits, two blocks in addition to his assist and +1 rating for the game.
Next up for the Bruins will be the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. The Oilers come into town with former Bruin Andy Ference serving the second game of a three game suspension for an illegal hit to the head last Saturday night.
Until Next Time!