Boston Bruins at Florida
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 23, 2019
Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
SUNRISE – The top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak is back together and the trio looks to continue putting up big numbers when the Boston Bruins visit the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. Pastrnak had a goal and an assist in his second game back from a five-plus week absence (thumb) while his linemates added six more points in Thursday’s 5-1 victory at New Jersey.
“When they’re going, they pull the rest of the guys along,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters of his top line. “That was a bit of the story of our team early in the year. Now we’re seeing more secondary scoring, but they are certainly our go-to guys. They are our drivers.”
The Bruins have won three in a row while allowing two goals combined to hold a six-point lead on Toronto for second place in the Atlantic Division – along with home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs – and need one point to reach 100 for the second straight season. The Panthers sit seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with eight games left, but are finishing the season strong with five wins in the last seven contests after beating Arizona 4-2 on Thursday.
“We have pride in this locker room,” Florida goalie Roberto Luongo told reporters. “Obviously we’re disappointed where we are in the standings, but it’s a privilege to play in the NHL and you’ve got to give your all every night. You’re always fighting for something, whether it’s standings, jobs. There’s always a reason to play.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), FS Florida
ABOUT THE BRUINS (45-20-9): Marchand has five of his career-high 90 points in the last three games and Bergeron is two shy of his career best of 73 after registering four goals along with two assists in the same stretch. Center David Krejci is one goal from his fourth season with 20 and owns four assists in the past four games while left wing Jake DeBrusk has scored nine times in his past 13 games to push his total to 23. Tuukka Rask (26-10-5, .918 save percentage) gave up one goal in his last two starts, but Jaroslav Halak (19-10-4, .925 SP) is expected to start Saturday.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (33-29-12): Keith Yandle has scored more points (38) on the power play in a season than any other player in franchise history while setting the season mark for defensemen with 58 points, including an assist Thursday. “The way that those guys can shoot the puck, score goals, I think I have the easiest job out there,” Yandle told reporters. “It’s just kind of distributing it to those guys and letting them do their magic.” Captain Aleksander Barkov has registered 19 (six goals, 13 assists) of his team-high 87 points during an eight-game point streak.
1. Florida LW Mike Hoffman has 17 power-play goals, two shy of the single-season club record held by Pavel Bure and Scott Mellanby.
2. Boston C Sean Kuraly (eight goals, 21 points) left Thursday’s game with an apparent hand injury and his status in uncertain.
3. The Panthers have won the last three meetings in Florida, including 5-0 with 33 saves from G Roberto Luongo on Dec. 4.