Jagr scores as Bruins shut down Panthers 3-0

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins saluted rather than celebrated.

Ending a four-game winless streak and
reaching a tie for first place in the Northeast Division with a 3-0
victory against the Florida Panthers on Sunday was secondary to the
Bruins, considering all that’s happened in Boston recently.

Each member of the team remained on the
ice for a postgame ceremony to hand over their jerseys to a group of
people who jumped in to assist the victims of the Boston Marathon
bombing or members of law enforcement who participated in the manhunt
that led to the capture of one of the suspects Friday night.

Thousands of fans remained for the
ceremony, cheering as 26 jerseys were handed out to the heroes of a
tragic week that could have been so much worse.

“There was still some electricity in the
air when you look at the end of the game,” Boston coach Claude Julien
said. “Too much has happened in this past week to suddenly turn the
corner and say we’ve forgotten. We haven’t and we never will.”

The “Shirt Off Our Backs” ceremony is
actually an annual promotion for fans. But the Bruins said season-ticket
holders asked instead for first responders to be the recipients.

“It’s pretty overwhelming to see all
the fans and all the players taking the time to say thanks,” said
Massachusetts State Police Trooper Mark Spencer, who was holding on to
the sweaty jersey Jaromir Jagr had just handed him. “We couldn’t even
walk through upstairs during the venue without people stopping us and
thanking us.”

Spencer piloted the helicopter equipped
with a thermal imaging device that confirmed the 19-year-old bombing
suspect was hiding in a parked boat in neighboring Watertown.

Trooper Eric Fairchild, who was
handling communications on the helicopter crew, received Rich Peverley’s
jersey. Both, dressed in their black flight suits and hats, modestly
credited others with having more important roles in the rescue and
apprehension.

“We were a small cog in a big wheel
with a lot of people working together and it came to a successful
resolution,” Fairchild said. “The citizens of Massachusetts are amazing
and we feel very honored today. Boston fans, Massachusetts residents and
United States citizens at this time have been amazing.”

Jagr, whose goal 3:03 into the game
gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead, said the players were grateful for the
chance to meet and thank the honorees personally.

“It’s part of our job to somehow help
people — somehow make them happy,” Jagr said. “It’s a small help, but
at least it’s a help we can do. Hopefully they appreciate it and they
are happy.”

The Bruins were playing the second of
back-to-back afternoon games after hosting the Penguins in a 3-2 loss
Saturday. The Pittsburgh game was originally scheduled for Friday night,
but postponed because of the lockdown and manhunt for one of the
suspected bombers.

Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots for his
fourth shutout of the season and the Bruins pulled into a tie with idle
Montreal for first place in Northeast Division with 59 points. The
Bruins have four games to play, one more than the Canadiens as the
longtime rivals try to lock up the division in the final week of the
regular season.

The visiting Panthers honored local law
enforcement by wearing Boston Police hats during their pregame skate.
Bruins fans once again took over the singing of the national anthem, a
practice that started last week in the first game since the deadly
explosions at the marathon finish line.

Rookie Dougie Hamilton added his fifth
goal of the season on a slap shot from the blue line in the second
period, giving the Bruins goals from their oldest and youngest player.
Jagr, who has eight points in nine games for Boston, is 41; Hamilton is
19.

Brad Marchand picked up his team-high 18th goal when he backhanded the puck into an empty net with 1:22 remaining.

Florida has lost six in a row and seven
of eight, although the Panthers did improve slightly on defense in this
latest loss. The Panthers had been outscored 17-5 during the first
three games of a four-game road trip, which ended Sunday.

“There was enough try to give us an
opportunity to be very competitive in this game,” Florida coach Kevin
Dineen said. “At the end of it, you have to find a way with what we have
to try to create some kind of offense.”

Jacob Markstrom stopped 36 shots for Florida, one day after allowing six straight goals in a 6-2 loss at New Jersey.

NOTES:
Bruins D Adam McQuaid (lower body) and F Nathan Horton (upper body)
were out of the lineup. … Boston C Carl Soderberg, who made his NHL
debut on Saturday, assisted on Jagr’s goal for his first NHL point. …
The Panthers’ last won on April 7, beating Ottawa 2-1. … Florida has
not scored more than three goals in any game this month.