Bruins 6, Panthers 2

Boston Bruins bombard goalie Tim Thomas, beat Florida Panthers

 
 
Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) scores against Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas (34) after Thomas fell out of position, as Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (7) and center Nick Bjugstad (27) watch during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston on Jan. 28, 2014. At right is Bruins right wing Jarome Iginla (12).
Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) scores against Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas (34) after Thomas fell out of position, as Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (7) and center Nick Bjugstad (27) watch during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston on Jan. 28, 2014. At right is Bruins right wing Jarome Iginla (12).
Elise Amendola / AP

grichards@MiamiHerald.com

Things got so bad for Tim Thomas during the Panthers’ 6-2 loss to the Bruins on Tuesday that his mind may have drifted toward Washington and his old buddy Barack Obama.

“I might have enjoyed myself watching the State of the Union more,’’ said Thomas, who famously skipped a White House ceremony a few years back.

Both Democrats and Republicans would agree Tuesday’s game was hard to watch as Thomas and the Panthers were completely lit up.

Thomas, playing in TD Garden for the first time since leaving the Bruins at the end of the 2011-12 season, really seemed to want to beat his old teammates.

Only it appeared the Bruins wanted to beat him more.

The Bruins led 2-0 after a dominating first period before opening up a four-goal lead in the second. Florida cut its deficit in half early in the third, but the Bruins kept coming and had things safely in hand midway through the final period.

“I don’t think our guys were in the mind-set to play,’’ said coach Peter Horachek, whose team has lost six in a row to the Bruins.

“It was pretty disappointing all the way around.’’

Thomas, who led the Bruins to their Stanley Cup in 2011, was assaulted from all sides and didn’t get much help from his teammates. Boston outshot, outchanced and outmuscled the Panthers for much of the night.

By the time the Panthers looked like they could play with the Bruins, they were already down four.

“I didn’t expect it to go this way, I felt good,’’ said Thomas, who faced 41 shots and gave up the most goals since joining the Panthers this past summer.

“I thought I was going to play a strong game. But you can see the result. The good thing is a loss is a loss no matter how much you lose by. We can make the next game a win.’’

The Atlantic-leading Bruins, who have won six of eight, showed no ill effects of playing the previous night on Long Island as they peppered Thomas with shots from the start.

Thomas held down the fort for a while, but Boston broke through 7:41 in when Jonathan Huberdeau coughed up the puck deep in the Florida zone, The puck got to Jarome Iginla, who fed Milan Lucic for his first of two. Florida was being outshot 11-4 at the time.

“If your mind-set isn’t to come out and play hard, you’re not going to have any success, especially here,’’ said Horachek, whose team had won its past three road games including ones in Pittsburgh and Detroit.

“They had 19 shots. I counted us with maybe one scoring chance.’’

Boston kept coming at Thomas in the first and ended with 19 shots in the opening period. One, by Zdeno Chara, hit Dmitry Kulikov and Thomas before bouncing behind the Florida goalie and skipping across the line.

Early in the second, Lucic made it 3-0 when Thomas made a save on Iginla but couldn’t control the puck. Lucic hopped all over it and tapped it home.

Riley Smith — who scored the game-winner against Thomas earlier this season in Sunrise — scored later in the third with Sean Bergenheim in the penalty box.

Former Boston forward Brad Boyes put the Panthers on the board with his team-leading 14th goal of the season with 24.9 seconds left in the period.

Kulikov scored a power-play goal — Florida’s first since 2013 — to make it 4-2, but the Bruins kept coming. Shawn Thornton showed a move Thomas had probably never seen by walking in and backhanding a high shot through with 11 minutes left. David Krejci ended the scoring with 2:09 remaining.

“For a guy like [Thomas], who has done so much for us,’’ Boyes said, “we have to play better in front of him.’’

• Tomas Kopecky was activated after missing four games. To make room, Florida placed rookie center Aleksander Barkov (knee) on injured reserve retroactive to last week.

Barkov is eligible to come off IR in time for Thursday’s game in Toronto, although that seems doubtful.

• Shawn Matthias (flu) didn’t play Tuesday, and defenseman Erik Gudbranson was scratched for the second game in a row.

Read more Florida Panthers stories from the Miami Herald

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