NHL players love talking about how important special teams are “these days.”
Their point was made on Friday night.
Boston’s top-rated power play scored two goals and Florida’s third-ranked unit got one, all while Tuukka Rask turned away 31 shots in the Bruins 3-1 win at BB&T Center.
“Those are momentum changers,’’ Brandon Pirri said. “We’ve said it 100 times, special teams are huge in this game. We had a few chances, capitalized on one, but with our power play, we expect more. We just needed to bear down and put them in the net.’’
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The Bruins, who lead the league with 11 goals while with the man advantage, scored on their first two power play chances to win for the third straight game.
Boston’s penalty kill units also put in a strong game. Although Florida got its lone goal on a 5-on-3 chance in the second after falling behind 3-0, Rask and the Bruins didn’t let the Panthers get another one.
Florida’s goal came when Nick Bjugstad knocked in a rebound midway through the period.
A few moments later, the Panthers got another two-man advantage — this time for almost 90 seconds — but didn’t score and wouldn’t again.
Florida also pulled goalie Roberto Luongo on two late power play chances and failed to convert. Boston went 2 for 3 with the advantage; Florida was 1 for 6.
“They move the puck real well and got guys in front of the net,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. “Luongo had no chance on those goals.’’
The Panthers, despite playing without star Jaromir Jagr, came out aggressively and challenged Rask early.
Rask, usually strong against the Panthers, was again Friday as he turned away one chance after another.
“I thought Rask was, by far, the best player on the ice,’’ Gallant said. “He was outstanding. Rask made some great saves, was the difference in the game.’’
Boston took a 1-0 when Brad Marchand got a piece of a Zdeno Chara pass midway through the first.
In the second, Marchand took a Torey Krug pass, worked around two Florida defenders in front of the net and backhanded a shot past Luongo. Chara got the third goal at 9:13 of the second off another rebound.
Marchand was later ejected for his hit on Dmitry Kulikov. Gallant said Kulikov broke his nose and is questionable for Saturday’s game against the Capitals.
“I just saw the replay of it,’’ said Marchant, who could face suspension.
“[Kulikov] was a little off balance. I just pushed him. It’s not like I buried him hard or anything like that. It’s unfortunate. I obviously didn’t mean to bury him from behind, but things happen quick.”
▪ Jimmy Hayes was back in Sunrise for the first time since the Panthers traded him to Boston in exchange for Reilly Smith and the expiring contract of Marc Savard in July.
Hayes, a Boston native who scored a career-high 19 goals for the Panthers last year, said he was “caught off guard” when Florida dealt him to the Bruins.
A few days before that deal, it was reported general manager Dale Tallon was very close to pulling off a deal for Hayes at the draft with the Rangers.
“You don’t expect to be traded and after having a pretty good year, I thought I had a spot on the team,’’ said Hayes, whose brother Kevin plays for New York.
“You always hear rumors and wherever my brother was ... there was talk I would be traded there.’’
Saturday: Capitals at Panthers
When/where: 7 p.m.; BB&T Center.
TV/radio: FSFL; WHIS 1080, WMEN 640, WNMA 1210.
Series: Washington leads 60-45-9
Scouting report: The Capitals had won five in a row before losing to Pittsburgh at home on Wednesday. Washington, which beat Columbus on Friday, won two of three against Florida last year.