Sunrise, FL -- In a shootout, the Boston Bruins defeated the Florida Panthers, 5-4, Thursday night in the BankAtlantic Center.
In 25 minutes of flawless relief, B's goalie Alex Auld stopped fifteen shots, and all three shooters he saw in the tiebreaker, to earn the shootout win.
His teammate Marco Sturm scored the lone goal in the penalty shot contest to send the B's to the airport with seven of a possible eight points in the last four games.
"It feels good," said Sturm in the victorious locker room. "It was a great comeback and a great win."
The Bruins began the evening having garnered five out of a possible six points in the first three games of a very important five game road swing. The Black & Gold also started the evening tied with Philadelphia and Buffalo at 66 points in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.
And by all accounts, the Bruins fairly dominated the first period in every which way -- besides the scoreboard.
The Panthers led after the first period because a broken play by Boston kept the puck in the Bruins zone and the Panther's Jay Boumeester had a shot from Bryan Allen deflect off his foot. That deflected puck went off the skate of a Boston defender and into Tim Thomas' net just 2:40 into the game.
A few minutes later, at 6:07, Boston forward Jeremy Reich scored a decision on Steve Montador on a well-timed bout at center ice.
Later in the period, Mark Stuart creamed Greg Campbell in a bit of fisticuffs that developed behind the play with just under six minutes to play in the opening stanza.
And, as a final testament to their first session domination, the B's finished the period ahead in shots by a count of 11 to 5.
"In the first period I think our team should have played with a little more desperation," said B's head coach Claude Julien. "It can't matter who you are playing against.
"You have to play at your level.
"And you have to have the expectation [that you will get the most] out of your hockey club," he said.
Boston's Sturm rectified the scoreboard situation when he struck back and beat Tomas Vokoun stick side low, at just 1:58 of the second, to tie the score, 1-1. However, the Panthers Steve Montador countered at 9:32 to put Florida back on top, 2-1.
That goal sent the BankAtlantic Center into hysterics and eventually "The Wave" made its way around the building several times.
Marco Sturm, left, is checked from behind by the Panthers Olli Jokinen, center, as Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun, covers the net during the first period of the B's 5-4 shootout win at Sunrise, Fla. on Thursday. (AP Photo/Hans Deryk)
Rostislav Olesz responded to the heightened energy in the building when he sped into the Bruins zone, rounded the Bruins goal and deposited his 10th marker of the season into Thomas' net at 12:11.
Montador, who was given an assist on the goal, earned a Gordie Howe hat trick.
After a high sticking penalty gave the Bruins a power play, Dennis Wideman cut the Cats lead in half with his goal at 16:13. But just before the squads entered the second break, the Panthers went up by two when Kamil Kreps beat Thomas at 19:59.
Auld, a former Florida Panthers goalie, took over for Thomas (eight saves) in the third period and stopped all 13 shots that came his way in the final 20 minutes of regulation. That allowed Sturm to feed B's captain Zdeno Chara to score a power play goal and bring the Bruins within one at 14:10.
"Sturmie made a heck of a play," said Chara. "He set me up in the second, the same way and [that time] Vokoun just made a great save.
"He did everything tonight.
"[Offensively] it was all him," he said.
At 14:48, Boston's Phil Kessel scored to tie the game, 4-4, and force overtime.
Auld stopped two shots in sudden death and Vokoun stopped five to send the game to a shootout where he and Sturm earned the Bruins a second playoff point.
"We just had to stick with it," said Auld. "We just needed to get some bounces.
"When you come back [to face] an old team you want to play...and to get the win is great."
Notes: Boston C Savard had two assists. He came in with a league-leading 52 assists... Boston LW P.J. Axelsson played his 700th NHL game... Boston is now 3-0-1 on a five-game road trip that ends Saturday at Tampa Bay... The loss kept Jacques Martin from reaching his 100th victory as Panthers coach. His record with Florida is 99-94-34...Marco Sturm was awarded the Boston "hardhat" award by Tuesday night's winner, Milan Lucic.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this post.
1 - 0 FLA
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 FLA
3 - 1 FLA
3 - 2 FLA
4 - 2 FLA
4 - 3 FLA