Ryan Spooner, Boston Bruins beat Florida Panthers
BOSTON — The Boston Bruins have played solid defense for most of the past three weeks.
Add in strong goaltending from Tuukka Rask and it's led the way to a nice run.
Ryan Spooner scored twice and Rask stopped 26 shots to lift the Bruins to a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
"Tuukka's been like we're used to seeing," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "He's been solid. There's no doubt he would have liked that goal back. He played capable enough to deserve a shutout. He's been solid.
"He's been good. He's had a rough start to the season, but he's regained his game and he's been confident and certainly given us a chance to win every time he's been in the net."
Backed by the strong stretch from Rask, the Bruins posted their eighth win in 11 games (8-1-2). Rask is 6-0-2 in his past eight starts.
The 28-year-old Vezina Trophy winner held the Panthers scoreless until former Bruin Reilly Smith's fired a slap shot from the right point that broke between his pads with 6:04 to play.
"Playing better, seeing the puck better, feeling better, probably," Rask said of his current stretch. "We're playing a lot better, too, and that helps a lot. We're not giving up a ton of scoring chances and that helps."
Brad Marchand sealed it with an empty-net goal, firing it from center ice with 1:23 to play.
Roberto Luongo made 22 saves for the Panthers, who lost for the third time in four games. They are winless in their past nine meetings in Boston (0-8-1).
"It was a pretty flat game. It was a defensive-minded game and there wasn't a whole lot of scoring chances," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. "Fortunately for them they got that first goal and it held up for quite a while and we just didn't generate enough tonight."
Most of the Panthers' shots came from the outside.
"There wasn't much out there," Smith said of his team's chances. "I felt like we didn't play our game right from the get-go. I felt like they controlled the pace and we let them off the hook."
Coming off a confidence-building win against the rival Canadiens in Montreal on Wednesday, the Bruins grabbed a 1-0 lead with 8:35 left in the first.
Torey Krug took a shot from the left point and Spooner, near the left circle, redirected it past Luongo. The call stood after a video review to see if Spooner touched it with a high stick.
Boston made it 2-0 on Spooner's power-play goal 8 minutes into the second. With Aaron Ekblad off for tripping, the Bruins kept the puck in the zone for the entire advantage — getting about four or five excellent chances — before Spooner slipped a wrister between Luongo's pads from the right circle.
Luongo kept it at a two-goal deficit, robbing David Krejci with a glove stop in the closing seconds of the second.
For most of the first two periods, the Bruins limited Florida's chances, keeping them deep and outside the center of the ice. The Panthers had just 13 shots on goal after two.
"It was definitely close to a 60-minute effort," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said.
NOTES: Florida C Vincent Trocheck played his 100th game. . Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt was at the game in a luxury box. The 97-year-old former Bruin got a big ovation when they showed him on the scoreboard. ... Florida C Derek MacKenzie was helped off the ice by a teammate early in the second and didn't return. Gallant didn't have any update on the injury. ... Boston RW Jimmy Hayes skated slowly to the bench after taking a hit along the boards in the first, but stayed in the game. ... The Bruins opened a stretch of nine of 11 at home. They host Edmonton on Monday. ... The Panthers played the first of four straight road games. They face the Islanders on Tuesday.
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