Rask, Bruins welcome Luongo, Panthers
BOSTON — Tom Rowe still hasn't had a home game as the interim coach of the Panthers. But Monday night, Rowe will be coaching a “home” game when the Panthers visit the Boston Bruins, the fifth game of a six-game road trip.
Rowe, the first American to score 30 goals in the NHL, hails from Lynn, Ma., just up the road from TD Garden. His brother is a retired police lieutenant there and his family still local.
Monday night, the Panthers bring a 1-1-1 record under Rowe into the continuation of their long trip with their new coach.
The Panthers, who lost 2-0 in Ottawa Saturday night, face a team that just won a pair of 2-1 games, at home against the Carolina Panthers in a shootout last Thursday and a regulation win at Buffalo on Saturday.
Tuukka Rask, who has been outstanding in goal for the Bruins, made a season-high 35 saves, 17 in the third period, to win at Buffalo — after Anton Khudobin was the winner against Carolina, the first Boston victory of the season by a goalie not named Rask.
“I think every team likes to have these kind of goaltenders, and a lot of teams do, we're just fortunate enough that he's been one of those guys that whenever you slip a little bit or lose a little bit of momentum or you're having a slow start or a tough night, those guys step up and help you win some hockey games,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said Saturday. “He's been like that since the start of the season and has been great.”
Rask wasn't great last season, when the Bruins narrowly missed the playoffs for the second straight season. But he has been brilliant so far this year.
Entering play around the league yesterday, Rask was leading the NHL with a 1.60 goals against average, was tied for lead with 13 wins and No. 3 with a .941 save percentage.
Saturday night, coming off Rowe's first win as a coach, a 2-1 overtime decision at Detroit, the Panthers killed all seven Ottawa power plays but yielded two goals in 19 seconds and went 0-for-4 on their own power play.
“It's a tough one to swallow,” said Keith Yandle.
The Bruins killed all seven Panthers power plays and Rask backstopped a 2-1 win at Florida back on Nov. 1.
Rask owned the Panthers through the years, going 16-3-1 with a 1.48 goals against average and .951 save percentage against Florida.
Roberto Luongo, who made 19 saves in the loss at Ottawa, is just 15-16-4 with a 2.45 goals against average and .926 save percentage in his regular season career against the Bruins — but will forever be known for his struggles against Boston in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
Saturday's loss broke Luongo's streak of allowing just one goal in three straight games. He is 9-7-1 with a 2.04 GAA and .929 save percentage this season. If he plays Monday, he will make his 944th NHL appearance, breaking a tie with Curtis Joseph for fifth place on the NHL's all-time list.
Luongo's backup, James Reimer, is 8-3-4 with 3.05/.896 this season and is 7-6-3 with 2.40/.929 lifetime against the Bruins.
Both teams come into this game having trouble scoring. Not counting shootout winners, the Panthers scored none goals in their last seven games. The Bruins scored four in the last three, even though both David Krejci and David Backes had two goals and an assist in the last four games.
The Panthers announced Sunday that Jonathan Marchessault is day-to-day after suffering a lower body injury Saturday night — Paul Thompson recalled from the minors.