The Florida Panthers have to face two teams the league-maximum five times this season.
Just their luck, the Boston Bruins are one of them.
Boston continued its dominance over the Panthers on Saturday night as the Bruins snapped a two-game slide by getting healthy at Florida’s expense once more with a 4-0 win at BB&T Center.
The Bruins have won all four meetings against the Cats this season and all three games in Sunrise.
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The final meeting between the two – assuming they don’t meet in the postseason – comes March 1 at Boston Garden.
Tuukka Rask is a big reason for Boston’s stranglehold on the Panthers as he has won 19 of 23 starts against Florida with five shutouts.
The Bruins have won 17 of their past 20 against the Panthers and 23 of the past 28.
Boston feels right at home in Sunrise, winning 13 of the past 16 in Sunrise including the past five.
The Panthers, on the others hand, haven’t looked too comfortable in their home environs lately, winning just two of its past eight (2-3-3) since kicking off a run of playing eight of nine at BB&T Center.
On Saturday, the Bruins took the lead when Brad Marchand lifted the puck from Keith Yandle on a Florida power play and marched up the ice and beat James Reimer – starting for the second consecutive night – at 12:48 of the first.
In the second, the Bruins made it 2-0 when David Backes got in front of Reimer and made a nice tip of a David Krejci shot and put the puck in the back of the net.
Marchand got his third goal of the season against the Panthers later in the second on a power play to give Boston a commanding 3-0 lead.
Riley Nash made it 4-0 with 15:01 left.
The Panthers were without goalie Roberto Luongo on Saturday due to an undisclosed injury giving James Reimer starts on back-to-back nights for the first time since he was Toronto’s starter last season.
General manager and interim head coach Tom Rowe said Luongo would likely return for Florida’s game at New Jersey on Monday.
Reimer, 28, signed a five-year deal to serve as Luongo’s primary backup as well as potential successor in the coming years.
In Friday’s 2-1 win over visiting Nashville, Reimer made 28 saves as he continued his recent hot streak.
In December, Reimer stopped 94 percent of shots faced and didn’t give up more than three goals in any of his five starts.
Although the Panthers considered bringing up NHL veteran Reto Berra from the minors with Luongo out, because of travel problems in South Florida, Berra stayed with Florida’s AHL team.
Instead, Florida recalled Sam Brittain from its ECHL team in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Brittain, unlike Berra, didn’t have to go very far to make it to the BB&T Center as his Manchester Monarchs were just a few hours away on Florida’s gulf coast. The Monarchs wrapped up a three-game set with the Florida Everblades in Estero on Saturday night.
The Panthers were forced to sign ticket sales account manager Bobby Segin to an emergency contract Friday night so he could backup Reimer when Luongo left the bench during the first period. NHL rules stipulate teams need two goalies ready to play at all times.
“We didn’t want to put Berra on a plane just for one game,” Rowe said. “It was just easier to put Brittain in a car and get him over here.”
Florida’s injury list continues to grow as Bjugstad was put on the shelf with a groin injury which is expected to cost him the next two weeks.
Bjugstad, who missed the first five weeks of the season with a fractured bone in his wrist, is expected to be out the next two weeks with a groin injury.
Florida is already playing without top-end forwards Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Griffith along with defenseman Alex Petrovic.
The Panthers lost Greg McKegg — who had scored in Florida’s previous two games — to an upper-body injury Saturday.
“It seems like every night there’s an injury,” Rowe said. “We just have to keep plowing through, play simple and not get fancy.”
Florida could have helped out its playoff chances Saturday as a regulation win would have tied it with Boston at 44 points.
Ottawa, Toronto and Boston came into the day all with 44 points; Florida and Tampa Bay both lost Saturday and remain at 42.
The Panthers also play Toronto five times this season; the Leafs are 3-0 against Florida.