SUNRISE, Fla. — The Boston Bruins broke out of their scoring funk against Florida — with a little help from Panthers coach Peter DeBoer.
Marco Sturm snapped a third-period tie, and Tim Thomas made 25 saves in the Bruins’ 2-1 victory over the Panthers on Sunday night.
Sturm scored at 4:39 of the final period, tipping the puck past Scott Clemmensen for his 11th goal of the season. DeBoer started Clemmensen in place of Tomas Vokoun, the Florida regular who shut out the Bruins in their last two meetings.
“I caught him (Keith Ballard) really good there,” Strum said. “I tried to get some speed on the rush and got the lucky bounce.”
DeBoer defended his decision to start Clemmensen.
“You make (the decision to start Clemmensen) on a gut (feeling) and I just thought it was the right thing to do,” DeBoer said. “Scott played very well against Carolina in his last start, and I felt he deserved another opportunity.”
Dominic Moore opened the scoring for Florida early in the first period, and Michael Ryder tied it late in the second.
Clemmensen finished with 26 saves.
“It was a tough game that could have gone either way,” Clemmensen said. “In this league, there’s never a margin of error.”
Ryder tied it with 3:58 left in the second, redirecting the puck past Clemmensen for his 10th goal. Andrew Ference took the initial shot from the point, and Ryder took advantage of a partially screened Clemmensen.
It was the Bruins’ first goal against Florida in the past three games over two seasons. Vokoun beat the Bruins 2-0 on Feb. 21 and 1-0 on Nov. 12.
While Clemmensen was solid, Thomas settled down after a shaky start and blanked Florida after giving up Moore’s goal at the 4:09 mark of the first. Thomas’ last save came on a dead-on shot by Jordan Leopold with 4 seconds left.
“Especially at that time you try to be ready for everything,” Thomas said. “I think it bounced off a shin pad and went right to one of their guys. … I just tried to stay with the puck as long as possible and fortunately was able to get a glove on it.”
Boston has won three straight.
“It was just a matter of time. Our team is starting to gel a little bit,’ coach Claude Julien said. “We’ve had some new faces in our line-up, but I think we’re starting to understand the concept of what we’re looking for and just try to keep getting better.”
NOTES: Bruins’ defenseman Matt Hunwick played in his 100th NHL game. … The game was the first of three in four days for the Bruins leading up to the Winter Classic on Friday at Fenway Park.