Milan Lucic scored Boston’s first three goals, Tuukka Rask made 41 saves for his first victory of the season, and the Bruins beat the Florida Panthers 4-0 on Thursday night.
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Lucic scored late in the first period, then added two goals in a 15-second span late in the third for his second career hat trick. He has 10 goals this season.
Shawn Thornton also scored.
Rask was 0-4-1 entering the game, spending most of the season backing up Tim Thomas during his 10-1 start. Thomas had already played two games this week, so Rask got the start and stopped everything – including one shot that took off his mask. It was his first shutout since a 1-0 decision at New Jersey last March.
It was Rask’s first win since May 5, when the Bruins won 4-1 at Philadelphia to take a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Flyers won the next four and Rask couldn’t reclaim the starting job with Thomas off to his strong start.
Florida went 0 for 6 on the power play.
Rask came up huge in the third when the Bruins went on just their second power play of the game and quickly allowed two great short-handed chances to the Panthers. Chris Wiggins had a breakaway, but shot wide of the net, then Bryan Allen was alone in the slot for a shot that Rask calmly snagged with his glove.
Boston precariously held on to a 1-0 lead on Lucic’s first-period goal until late in the third period when Lucic struck twice. He streaked up the boards and got in alone for a wrist shot over Tomas Vokoun’s glove. After the faceoff, Lucic was able to poke in a rebound that Vokoun couldn’t corral with 5:03 left.
Thornton completed the scoring with 3:56 left.
Rask stopped 16 in the first period, including a handful of point-blank shots after some sloppy puck handling by his teammates. Boston fans slowly regained their faith in the former starter and started cheering ”Tuuuuk! Tuuuuk!” when he came up with some big saves late in the period.
Florida had shut out the Bruins in the last two meetings in Boston. The Bruins finally got one past Tomas Vokoun when Lucic lifted a shot high to the stick side for his eighth goal of the season. It was the Bruins’ first goal at home against Florida since Feb. 24, 2009. The Panthers won both games in Boston last season with shutouts, including a 1-0 victory for Vokoun last November.