“Our players were excited to acknowledge that this has been a tough week for the people of Boston,” said Panthers coach Kevin Dineen. “There was enough try to give us an opportunity to be very competitive to win this game. At the end of it, you have to find a way with this group to create some kind of offense.
“There was effort (today)], which was encouraging and we have to have for us to go home and keep pushing with some dignity and pride.”
After another stirring rendition of the national anthem taken over by the 17,565 fans, it took only 3:03 for the tailspinning Panthers to return to the reality of facing an angry bunch of Bruins, who snapped a four-game losing streak and moved past idle Montreal into first place of the Northeast Division.
Ageless superstar Jaromir Jagr outfought Shawn Matthias and Quinton Howden for a loose puck before flicking it top-shelf over rookie goalie Jacob Markstrom for goal No. 681.
In a wide-open, 31-shot second period in which both goaltenders sparkled, the Bruins made it 2-0 on rookie Dougie Hamilton’s rocket from the point. Brad Marchand added an empty-netter at 18:38 of the third to complete Boston’s three-game series sweep of Florida and a nightmarish 0-4 road trip in which they were outscored 20-5.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask heard cheers of “Tuuuuu-ka” throughout his sterling 28-save, fourth shutout of the season.
Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann, who felt the team quit in the waning moments of Thursday’s 6-2 loss to the Rangers, felt better about Sunday’s effort.
“There was a good feeling in the dressing room in how we played,” he said. “We really worked hard, we showed them pretty good hockey. This is what we have to remember for next season and finish the season like that.”