Bruins crawl past Panthers

Dougie Hamilton and Shawn Thornton celebrate at goal against Florida Thursday.
Dougie Hamilton and Shawn Thornton celebrate at goal against Florida Thursday.

BOSTON — The fact that the Bruins didn’t play a good game at all (by their lofty standards) yet still beat the Panthers, 4-1, Thursday at TD Garden should tell you something about where these two teams are going this season. Boston (18-4-3) is a serious Stanley Cup contender if it can get everyone on the same page while Florida (7-15-6) will undoubtedly have a real shot at the No. 1 draft pick in June.

Boston won 4-1 at Florida on Feb. 24, what are the odds they come away with another 4-1 victory when they wrap this dull season series up April 21 at the Garden? This one was never really in doubt even though the Panthers hung around for way too long. Zdeno Chara scored on a bomb from the point in the first period and Patrice Bergeron added another goal in the frame thanks to tic-tac-toe passing from linemates Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.

Florida’s lone goal was a weird one as it came shorthanded (the first Boston has allowed all season) in the second period after Dougie Hamilton fell down, allowing Shawn Matthias to work around him. Tuukka Rask (29 saves; 14-2-3) didn’t help matters by taking a bad angle when the tried to make the save. A game this ugly was fittingly wrapped up by the fourth line as Shawn Thornton used great hustle to score with 7:17 left in the third period. Bergeron added an empty-netter for his first two-goal game in over a year (Feb. 25, 2012).

Washington (11-4-1) comes to Boston on Saturday afternoon (1 p.m., NESN). The Bruins will be looking for a better result than their 4-3 overtime loss to the Capitals on March 5 in DC when they blew a 3-0 lead.

Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate



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