NHL

Panthers further prove they are no joke

Hear how the Panthers used physical play to take down the Bruins.
Hear how the Panthers used physical play to take down the Bruins.
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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)

The Florida Panthers are getting hot at just the right time, while the Boston Bruins are struggling.

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Jose Theodore stopped 24 shots and the Panthers scored three second-period goals to beat the Bruins 6-2 on Thursday night.

Wojtek Wolski, Tomas Kopecky, John Madden, Stephen Weiss, Marcel Goc and Mikael Samuelsson scored for the Panthers. Brian Campbell had three assists.

Florida has won three straight games and increased its lead in the Southeast Division to three points ahead of idle Washington. The Panthers got their first four-game home winning streak since a five-game run Jan. 16-31, 2010.

''We want to play well at home to enthuse our fan base,'' Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. ''We want to be homers, be a good home team. I think we've shown that.''

Brian Rolston and Joe Corvo scored, and Tim Thomas made 23 saves for the Bruins, who gave up six goals for the second straight game.

''That's twilight zone-ish. I don't know what we did, but we did something to put luck not on our favor that's for sure,'' Thomas said. ''I haven't seen a run of bounces like this in a long time.''

The Bruins have lost four straight and six of their last eight. They last lost four straight in regulation during a five-game skid on Jan. 18-29, 2010.

''It was basically a whole team collapse tonight,'' Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ''We do have some guys that are tired and unfortunately guys that are not playing up to par. At the same time we've got lots of games and we have to fight our way through it.''

Leading 1-0, Florida outscored Boston 3-1 in the second period.

The Panthers went ahead 2-0 on a goal by Goc 38 seconds into the period. Brian Campbell took a shot from just inside the blue line. Goc redirected the puck with his stick into the net.

The Bruins closed to 2-1 after Corvo scored a goal on a slap shot from the left circle at 4:53 of the second. The puck went through the air the whole way and over Theodore's shoulder.

The Panthers went ahead 3-1 on Weiss's second-period goal, his first in eight games. Tomas Fleischmann's shot from the right of the crease was blocked but Weiss swept in the rebound at 6:32.

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''It was a big hockey game for us for sure,'' Weiss said. ''We knew we were either two points back or six points back (of Boston), so that's a big win for us. We've got to keep it going.''

Florida stretched its lead to 4-1 on Madden's goal, his first of the season. The puck went off the top of Madden's stick and into the net with 4:33 to go.

''Felt great. It was a big game, but just to score finally,'' Madden said. ''It's good to get it off my back and move forward.''

Boston made it 4-2 on Rolston's power-play goal early in the third. His shot from the right circle went past Theodore at 1:44. It was Rolston's first goal in 10 games since he came to the Bruins in a trade with the Islanders.

''Obviously it's nice to get on the board and I certainly hope I can help,'' Rolston said. ''That's what I hoped when I came in here.''

Kopecky's goal at 7:51 of the third put the Panthers back ahead by three goals. He poked in the puck from in front to make it 5-2. Wolski added a goal with 2:26 left to make it 6-2.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Samuelsson in the first. Samuelsson took a pass from Brian Campbell at the top of the right circle. His slap shot got past Thomas with 2:03 remaining.

Notes: Florida F Kris Versteeg, tied with Tomas Fleischmann as the team's leading scorer in goals (22), missed his ninth consecutive game with a lower-body injury. ... Boston D Andrew Ference played in his 700th NHL game. ... The Bruins are 1 for 15 on the power play over their last seven games.

Tagged: Bruins, Panthers, Brian Rolston, Brian Campbell, Jose Theodore, John Madden, Tomas Kopecky, Stephen Weiss, Marcel Goc, Mikael Samuelsson, Tim Thomas, Tomas Fleischmann

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