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Hockey / Sports

Bruins pound Tim Thomas, top Panthers 6-2

BOSTON -- So much for a hospitable homecoming for Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas, who faced his former team for the first time in TD Garden.

Despite ending their franchise-worst power-play drought, the Panthers couldn't overcome a four-goal deficit and a jittery performance by Thomas in a 6-2 blowout Tuesday night to snap their three-game road-winning streak.

While the TD Garden fans greeted their 2011 Stanley Cup MVP goalie warmly, some of his former teammates weren't as forgiving for his abandonment, especially forward Milan Lucic, who accounted for two goals and basically caused another with his crease presence.

Thomas, who also won two Vezina trophies while playing the first seven years of his career for Boston, gave up a season-high six goals on 41 shots. A frustrated Thomas clubbed center Carl Soderberg in the closing seconds for a penalty.

"I think I might've enjoyed myself watching the State of the Union more. No, probably not," cracked Thomas, whose well-publicized refusal of President Obama's invitation to attend the White House celebration of the Bruins' title partially led to his one-year hiatus.

"They made the Finals last year for a reason and they played a good game against us, combined with us not playing our best game, myself included. They just kept coming at us."

Panthers coach Peter Horachek's post-game State of the Union address was laced with disappointment.

"Our guys weren't in the mindset to play," Horachek said. "Pretty disappointing all the way around. ... That wasn't (Thomas') best game but I don't think there was a lot of solid efforts from any of the players."

The Atlantic Division-leading Bruins have won three straight, scoring six goals in each. They always treated the Panthers like unwelcome house guests and now have beaten them six straight times, including the last five in Beantown.

Trailing 4-0 with 33 seconds left in the second period, Brad Boyes one-timed a feed from center Nick Bjugstad for his team-leading 14th goal to spoil a shutout bid by Thomas' able successor Tuukka Rask, now 10-1 against the Panthers.

"He wanted to play the way he has all season, if not better," said Boyes, who played with Thomas in Boston from 2005-07. "He's got quite a resume from here. It was tough not only for him but as a team. We didn't help him out at all.

"Everything he's done for us, and to not play well for him in this big game for him is too bad."

The momentum carried over into the third period when Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov's straightaway wrister at 4:00 finally ended an 0-for-43 power-play drought that stretched over 14-plus games.

"It's just the beginning. We can't just hope we scored one goal and now we'll score one every game," Kulikov said. "We have to build on that. ...

"It was more about the team loss than about Tim Thomas against the Panthers. It was Panthers against Boston. We played bad."

The Panthers' last PPG came on Dec. 28 in a 4-3 loss to the Red Wings on Sean Bergenheim's tally in the second period.

But any hopes of a second-straight stirring comeback a la Sunday's 5-4 shootout win over the Red Wings was quickly dashed when forward Shawn Thornton split two defenders before spinning in with a spectacular roof-top goal at 8:14.

Despite playing the night before on Long Island, the swarming Bruins absolutely toyed with the Panthers in the first period, outshooting them 19-8 and outscoring them 2-0.

KOPECKY RETURNS

Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky was back in the lineup Tuesday after missing the previous four games with an upper-body injury. Kopecky, who led the team with 15 goals last season, has four goals and 10 points in 43 games.

To make room for Kopecky, the Panthers placed rookie center Aleksander Barkov (knee) on IR retroactive to last Thursday. Horachek is "shooting for" Barkov to rejoin the team in Columbus, Ohio, and possibly play Saturday. ...

Forward Shawn Matthias was scratched due to illness.

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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