Panthers-Bruins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 20, 2013
The recent tragic events in Boston and the surrounding area won't be forgotten any time soon, but the Bruins are helping bring back a bit of normalcy by taking the ice and providing the city with some relief during the difficult time. Now they're hoping to get themselves back on track. Boston looks to avoid a fifth consecutive loss while winning for the fifth time in six meetings with the NHL-worst Florida Panthers on Sunday night at TD Garden. After having two games postponed due to the bombings at Monday's Boston Marathon and the ensuing manhunt for the suspects, the Bruins were able to take the ice again Saturday after the second suspect was captured Friday. "At least we could all breathe a little easier and sleep a little easier," coach Claude Julien said. "And now it's, hopefully, time to work ourselves into trying to get things back to normal again, but it will always leave a scar somewhere." Boston began a stretch of six games in nine days to end the regular season by falling 3-2 to Pittsburgh, scoring two or fewer goals for the fourth consecutive game - all losses. The Bruins (26-12-5), who haven't dropped five straight since a 10-game skid Jan. 16-Feb. 6, 2010, are still involved in a tight race with Montreal for the Northeast Division crown. "We felt the same way as (Wednesday's 3-2 shootout loss to Buffalo) with the ceremony and, again, with all the police and firemen and everything in the building," said Brad Marchand, who scored his team-best 17th goal Saturday. "It was a special time again, and we definitely built a lot of momentum off of that." Boston seemingly has a prime opportunity to end its slide as reeling Florida visits after dropping its fifth straight, 6-2 at New Jersey on Saturday. The Bruins have won each of the first two meetings with the Panthers by 4-1 scores, as Daniel Paille had a goal and an assist Feb. 24 and Patrice Bergeron scored twice March 14. Marchand has five goals and five assists in his last 10 games versus Florida (13-25-6), which has an NHL-worst 32 points and has been outscored 27-8 during its skid. Its minus-57 goal differential is by far the worst in the league. Marcel Goc scored for the second time in three games Saturday and defenseman Brian Campbell ended a 12-game goal drought for the Panthers, who conclude a four-game road trip Sunday. "As this season is working toward Game 48, our commitment to defense has waned and hasn't been strong enough," coach Kevin Dineen said. "We're too easy to play against, and hence we are giving up five or six goals every game on this road trip." Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves Saturday but has a 5.87 goals-against average while dropping his last five starts. His only career outing versus Boston was in February when he stopped 28 shots. Backup Scott Clemmensen, 3-7-2 with a 3.67 GAA this season, lost last month's matchup against the Bruins and could get the start with Florida playing for a second straight day. Tuukka Rask made 21 saves for Boston while losing his third straight start Saturday, but he too may stay on the bench due to the games on back-to-back days. Anton Khudobin, 5-1-1 with a 1.92 GAA over his last seven starts, would get the nod.
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