Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers game preview
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers are thrilled to be back home.
After getting just two points during their just-completed four-game road trip, the Panthers (4-4-1) will play host to the Boston Bruins (4-4-0) on Tuesday night at the BB&T Center.
The Panthers salvaged their road trip by beating the Detroit Red Wings 5-2 on Sunday thanks in part to a hat trick by Florida newcomer Colton Sceviour.
"That was a real big win for us," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant told the assembled media. "We needed that one."
The Bruins, who are the Panthers’ rivals in the Atlantic Division, have been off since beating the Red Wings 1-0 on Saturday.
Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, who had missed three straight games — all losses and by a combined score of 14-4 — because of an undisclosed injury that is believed to be a hamstring issue, came back and posted the shutout, stopping 24 shots.
For the season, Rask has a brilliant 1.25 goals-against average and a .958 saves percentage. And Rask, who has all four of Boston’s wins this season, was even better against the Red Wings.
"For myself, it was just a 40-minute game," said Rask, explaining that Detroit didn’t get any true chances off against him in the first period on Saturday. "It was a great effort by our guys — heck of a game."
Rask will now face a speedy Panthers team that includes Sceviour, whose hat trick was the first one for Florida in three years. Sceviour was also the first Panthers player since Nathan Horton in 2009 to get a power-play goal, short-handed goal and even-strength goal, all in one game.
"That was exciting," Sceviour said of his first career hat trick. "It was a tough road trip, but I’m glad we ended it in the proper way."
Tuesday’s game will be the first of four meetings this season between the Bruins and Panthers. The Bruins won three of four against Florida last season, including both games at the BB&T Center.
Then again, the Panthers are the defending Atlantic Division champions and the Bruins have missed the playoffs the past two years.
Part of the problem for the Bruins has been a lack of a solid backup goalie behind Rask, and that was evident against during this recent three-game slide.
Rask won the Vezina Trophy in 2013-2014, but he has been overworked since as the Bruins haven’t found a backup they can trust.
And even though Rask is still not 100 percent healthy, according to reports, he is confident he can make the start on Tuesday.
"For sure, yeah," he told the media after Saturday’s game. "No problems there."
Rask made it through practice on Monday, which is encouraging for Bruins coach Claude Julien.
"He’s had some soreness," Julien said. "But he seems to be OK right now. We hope he’s healthy. We need him."
Indeed they do, but the Bruins also need more scoring. Their offense has been nonexistent in most games. Their power play, for example, is dead last in the league at 6.7 percent.
The Panthers, who are likely to start Roberto Luongo in goal, are hoping that lack of offense continues for Boston in a matchup that could turn on whether Rask plays … or not.