It’s been a productive vacation for the Bruins, away from the snow and dreary weather in Boston. They improved to 3-1 on their season-high five game road trip and won their third straight game, 4-1, Sunday at Florida’s BB&T Center against the lowly Panthers.
The B’s (11-2-2) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Panthers (5-9-4) answered with a goal later in the frame, but Boston added a goal in the second period and an empty-netter in the third for their first three-goal lead of the season. Tuukka Rask (9-1-2) was busy as he made 34 saves, though most weren’t particularly dangerous chances.
It was a strange game in the sense that nine Bruins had points but only Daniel Paille (goal, assist) had multiple points and Chris Kelly finally notched his first goal of the season, on the power play of all places. Milan Lucic scored on a wrist shot to make it 1-0, then Zdeno Chara added what had to be one of the prettiest goals of his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career. Chara spun around a Panther in the slot then scored on a backhander after he went to the net. Tomas Kopecky recorded Florida’s only goal, fittingly on a broken play and with tons of traffic in front of Rask.
Kelly’s power play strike came after Paille’s attempted shot was deflected right to him and he only had to redirect it past Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom (28 saves). Boston will make its way back to TD Garden after wrapping up its road trip on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., NESN) in Long Island. In their previous meeting, the Bruins beat the Islanders (8-9-1), 4-2, on Jan. 25 in Boston.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate