Ullmark, NHL-leading Bruins Remain Hot, Top Panthers 3-1 to improve to 14-1-3 on season
Linus Ullmark stopped 27 shots, and the NHL-leading Boston Bruins topped the Florida Panthers 3-1 on Wednesday night in a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
John Beecher and Jake DeBrusk scored in a 3:05 span of the second period to put Boston in control, and Charlie Coyle also scored for the Bruins.
Anton Lundell scored for Florida, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 22 shots. The Panthers saw their six-game winning streak on home ice snapped and lost for just the second time in their last nine games overall.
“We were really good on the rush defense,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said of his team’s shutdown third-period performance. “We had a lot of numbers back, we were putting bodies on bodies and we had a little bit of time to make good breakout plays.”
Boston improved to 14-1-3 on the season and 4-0-0 after losses. The Bruins have 31 of a possible 36 points so far — by far the best in the league, yet slightly behind their pace from last season when they had 32 points through 18 games.
“We’ve only lost one game in regulation, so any time you’ve played this amount of games and have that, you’re doing something right,” DeBrusk said. “There are a lot of guys that are contributing in different ways and you need that to win. Our goaltending has been solid as well, and it bailed us out in a lot of games.”
The 31 points after 18 games ties the fifth-most in NHL history. The only teams with more: the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks had 33 points, while the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers, the 1929-30 Bruins and last season’s Bruins each had 32 points.
Boston finished with an NHL-record 135 points last season, yet still lost to Florida in seven games in the opening round of the playoffs. The Panthers went on to play in the Stanley Cup Final, but are 0-1-1 against the Bruins so far this season.
“This is going to be a real good rivalry for five or six years,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said before the game. “Boston's been a great team for a long time. We're trying to get to that level.”
The Panthers suffered their first multi-goal loss since Nov. 4 and fell to 12-6-1, but remain in second place in the Atlantic Division.
Ullmark improved to 7-1-1 on the season.
”He is a good, big goalie,” Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said of Ullmark. “He likes to play the puck, so every time you rim it, he stops it and makes a play. Obviously, we found a way to get to him in the past and we’ll do it again someday.”
The Panthers were again without captain Aleksander Barkov, who missed his second consecutive game with a knee injury. Barkov has been skating and Maurice said there is a chance — if the doctors approve — that the forward could play Friday against Winnipeg.
Bruins: Host Detroit on Friday afternoon.
Panthers: Host Winnipeg on Friday night.