Bruins beat Panthers 5-1, regain first place in East
Nick Holden has only been in Boston for about a month, and he's already learned that he needs to keep his stick on the ice when he's playing with David Krejci.
"When you think the puck can't get there, he can get it there," Holden said after scoring his first goal in a Bruins uniform, tapping in a spinning, perfectly place pass from Krejci to help Boston beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Saturday afternoon.
"He just made a perfect play,'" said Holden, who was acquired from the New York Rangers in late February. "You don't think the puck can get there, and he somehow finds you (with a) spin-o-rama pass all the way to the other side."
Krejci had three assists and Jake DeBrusk scored twice in his first game in more than two weeks for the Bruins, who moved into first place in the Eastern Conference and clinched home ice for at least one round of the playoffs.
Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots and rookie Ryan Donato had a goal and an assist for Boston, which has won four of its last five games. The Bruins have earned a point in eight straight games and 15 of their last 17.
Jamie McGinn scored for Florida, which remains three points behind New Jersey in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. James Reimer stopped 17 of the 22 shots he faced before he was replaced by Roberto Luongo with 3:28 left in the second period, trailing 5-1.
Luongo, the losing goalie for Vancouver in the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run, stopped all 11 shots the rest of the way.
"Obviously, you're not going to get into the playoffs playing like that," Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck said. "Against a team that's at the top of the league right now, you think you'd rise to the occasion and play your best game. It didn't seem like we did."
Two days after a physical battle for first place with the Tampa Bay Lighting, which the Bruins won 4-2 to take temporary possession of the top spot, Boston sent the struggling Panthers to their third straight loss and moved back into first. The Lightning had jumped ahead of the Bruins with a win at the New York Rangers on Friday night.
McGinn gave the Panthers the lead when he poked a rebound between Rask's skate and the post five minutes into the first.
From there, it was all Boston.
The Bruins tied it when Krejci spun around at the blue line and wheeled it right to the slot for Holden, who tipped through Reimer's legs and into the net.
Asked if he thought Krejci even knew he was there, Holden said, "Some guys, I'd say no."
"But Krejci, absolutely I'd say he knew I was there," he said. "He's been a special player that can create so much for everyone, not just for himself."
NOTES: Bruins D Brandon Carlo was taken off on a stretcher in the third period after an apparent ankle injury. ... Reimer played in his 300th NHL game. ... Referee Tom Kowal officiated his last of more than 1,000 NHL games before retiring. Both teams remained on the ice to shake his hands after the game. ... The Bruins' 7th Player Award was given to D Charlie McAvoy before the game. He accepted in street clothes before missing his 14th straight game with a knee injury. ... Bruins F David Pastrnak recorded his 200th career NHL point. He is the second member of the 2014 NHL draft class to reach that milestone, joining Edmonton's No. 3 overall selection Leon Draisaitl. ... Boston F Riley Nash left the game in the second period after taking a puck off the right side of his head. ... Donato has seven points in seven career NHL games.
Panthers: Host Carolina on Monday night.
Bruins: Play at Philadelphia on Sunday.