SUNRISE, Fla. — Already off to their best start in decades, the Boston Bruins maintained the pace with a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers Sunday afternoon in front of 18,108 at the BB&T Center.
With just one matchup remaining on their season-long five-game road trip, the Bruins (11-2-2) improved to 7-1-1 away from TD Garden. They came into Sunday’s game with the organization’s best road start since 2010 and best overall start since 1976.
Boston took a 1-0 lead on left winger Milan Lucic’s snap shot that beat goaltender Jacob Markstrom’s stick side 7:57 into the first period. Center David Krejci set up Lucic’s fourth goal of the season by winning the face-off in the Florida zone.
Nifty stick work from defenseman Zdeno Chara, who handled a pass from left winger Brad Marchand in front of the blue line, gave Boston a 2-0 advantage with 6:08 left in the period.
Chara spun around a defenseman and faked another Panthers player before backhanding the puck top shelf for his third goal of the year. Center Tyler Seguin also recorded an assist on the play.
Florida trimmed the deficit to 2-1 less than two minutes later on right winger Tomas Kopecky’s fifth goal of the season.
Left winger Tomas Fleischmann passed to center Drew Shore, whose shot rebounded back to him. Kopecky then gathered Shore’s feed that sat between defenseman Andrew Ference’s legs and found an opening on the left side of the net.
Earlier in the period, the same line couldn’t capitalize on a scoring opportunity. Center Jonathan Huberdeau passed to Kopecky, who took a shot that lingered near the back post and didn’t cross the goal line. Shore was unable to put it in.
Center Chris Kelly’s goal with eight seconds to go in a power play came 2:30 into the second period and handed the Bruins a 3-1 lead.
Left winger Daniel Paille skated down the middle of the Panthers zone — catching them on a line change — and took a slap shot that Florida’s Peter Mueller slightly deflected from behind. The loose puck went directly to Kelly for his first goal of the season. Left winger Chris Bourque tallied an assist.
Paille added a shorthanded open-netter with 1:37 remaining in regulation for his third goal of the year, assisted by defenseman Adam McQuaid.
After four successful penalty kills on Sunday, Boston has kept opponents off the board in 21 straight power plays over the past seven-plus games. The Bruins lead the league with 94.8 percent proficiency. The Panthers, on the other hand, are 0-for-17 on the power play during their current five-game home losing streak.
For the 10th time this season, Boston held an opponent to two goals or fewer, improving to 10-0-0 in those games. Goaltender Tuukka Rask made 34 saves.
Notes: Scott Clemmensen was a healthy scratch for the Panthers, who are currently keeping three goaltenders on the roster. Right winger Alex Kovalev was also a scratch on his 40th birthday. … Fleischmann is one goal shy of 100 for his NHL career, but has not found the back of the net since last Tuesday against his former team, the Washington Capitals. … Up next, the Bruins remain on their longest road trip of the season, closing the fifth and final game on Tuesday with a visit to New York to face the Islanders. … The Panthers continue their three-game homestand, hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
Flames 3, Wild 1: Matt Stajan snapped a tie at 7:19 of the third period and scored into an empty net in the final minute to cap his ninth career two-goal performance as host Calgary halted a two-game skid.
Alex Tanguay also tallied and Joey MacDonald made 30 saves for the Flames, who scored a total of one goal in their previous two contests.
Charlie Coyle scored his first career goal and Niklas Backstrom stopped 24 shots for Minnesota, which lost in regulation for just the second time in seven games (4-2-1).
Defenseman Chris Butler unleashed a shot from the blue line that was blocked in front. Stajan grabbed the loose puck on the doorstep and slipped a backhander under Backstrom’s left pad and just inside the right post to give Calgary a 2-1 lead. He added and empty-netter with nine seconds remaining for his first two-goal effort since Dec. 12, 2009 while with Toronto.
Calgary got on the board just 1:40 into the game as Tanguay received a lead pass from defenseman Jay Bouwmeester at Minnesota’s blue line and beat a sprawled Backstrom on a breakaway. The Wild pulled even at 8:56, when Coyle redirected Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s pass from the top of the left faceoff circle past MacDonald.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Calgary has scored three or more goals in five of its last 11 games, winning all five. It is 0-4-2 in the other six contests. … The Northwest Division rivals meet again as the Wild host the Flames on Tuesday. … Calgary LW Sven Baertschi returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a hip flexor. He registered two shots on goal in 13:20 of ice time.
Blues 2, Blue Jackets 1: David Perron snapped a tie midway through the third period and Jaroslav Halak made 19 saves as St. Louis snapped a five-game home winless streak.
Chris Stewart added his seventh tally for the Blues, who had totaled one goal in dropping their previous two contests.
Matt Calvert scored a short-handed goal and Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves as Columbus was denied in its bid to post back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Captain David Backes set up the game-winner by streaking up the right wing and taking a hit before firing a pass to Perron in the slot. Perron sent a wrist shot under Bobrovsky’s pads to give the Blues a 2-1 lead at 9:51 of the third.
Stewart opened the scoring with 6:05 remaining in the first with a slap shot from above the right faceoff circle that beat Bobrovsky over the right shoulder. Columbus evened it with 63 seconds left in the middle session, when defenseman James Wisniewski grabbed a turnover in the Blue Jackets’ zone and flipped the puck ahead to Calvert, who trickled it past Halak’s left pad.
GAME NOTEBOOK: St. Louis’ Barret Jackman played in his 616th NHL game, passing fellow D Bob Plager for sole possession of fifth place on the franchise list and first among blue-liners. … Columbus was awarded a power play after a questionable boarding call on Jackman with 1:43 left. The Blue Jackets pulled Bobrovsky to make it 6-on-4 but could not score the equalizer. Halak saved a goal by slapping the puck out of the air while on his back on the goal line with under 30 seconds left. … Perron’s tally was his sixth of the season and snapped a four-game goalless drought. … Columbus was without C Artem Anisimov (head), who was back in Columbus after slamming his head on the ice in Detroit on Thursday and landing in the hospital. He is day-to-day.