Thursday night’s game began with a wonderful tribute honoring head coach Claude Julien for having the most regular season wins in franchise history for the Boston Bruins. He was given a trip to Walt Disney World for he and his family, and a lovely black and gold watch from Royal Jewelers of Andover, Massachusetts. It was clear that Julien was touched, especially by the many congratulatory messages from Boston icons and coaches around the NHL that played on the Jumbotron. Sometimes such openings play out in a sluggish beginning by the Bruins, but such was not the case with the first period.

While the Bruins got two power plays during the first period and outshot the Florida Panthers, when the horn sounded to end the first neither team had scored. What was heartening to see was the strength of the overall play of the Bruins, holding up the Panthers as they entered the neutral zone and having some quality shifts throughout the period. What wasn’t good to see was the number of giveaways from those wearing black and gold—five—while the Panthers didn’t have any.

The second period saw the Bruins score first off the stick of Ryan Spooner, but the goal was the result of some strong puck protection by Frank Vatrano—who got an assist along with Loui Eriksson. It wasn’t long though before the Cats tied it up, as Reilly Smith, who was traded to Florida by Boston in exchange for Jimmy Hayes, got it past Tuukka Rask. And then about five minutes later the Panthers went up on a shorthander from Vincent Trocheck. The second saw the Panthers outshoot the Bruins. The Bruins also added another five giveaways signaling some sloppy play, while again the Panthers had none.

Traditionally this season, the third period has been a strong one for the Bruins, and it looked like they tried to start the period off that way. As the period continued, the ice was certainly becoming level in regard to shots on goal, though neither team had anything really to show for it. Then at 8:03 it looked like on a rebound Patrice Bergeron was able to get the puck in and tie the game. From his vantage point he felt it was in. However, the play would go to review—not as a result of a coach’s challenge—and five minutes later, after much discussion with Toronto, the “no goal” call on the ice was upheld. This despite what appeared to many, including many hockey fans who are definitely not fans of the Bruins, that the puck had indeed been in. To add insult to injury, within a minute the Bruins were whistled for too many men on the ice. While they were able to make the penalty kill, as soon as Vatrano, who sat for the bench minor, exited the box, the Panthers got their third goal of the game. And then as the clock was counting down the last minute and the Bruins net was empty Florida would put the dagger in with an empty netter.

As the players pointed out after the game, at this point of the season, it’s important to simply put this game behind and focus on the seven remaining games.

“You know I wouldn’t take anything from this game. Just going to start fresh. Just forget what happened before and just worry, I mean focus, on the next seven games, game by game,” David Krejci said. “Like I said, we’re not even in the playoffs yet, so just take it game by game and whatever happened in the past happened but we have to look forward here.”

The Bruins have four road games and then will finish the regular season with three homestands beginning April 5 with the Carolina Hurricanes followed by the Detroit Red Wings on April 7 and finally playing host to the Ottawa Senators on April 9. They are still in a playoff position, but they have got to get some wins, as there is little margin now and they could quickly find themselves on the outside if they can’t figure out what has gone wrong with the last five games.

Postgame interviews with both teams:

A family historian by profession, Rhonda R. McClure has loved hockey since she was a child in New Hampshire. Any opportunity to combine her love of writing, hockey and research is something she looks forward to with much enthusiasm. She's been accused of seeking out shinny games when there are no other hockey events taking place. She is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Follow her on Twitter at @HockeyMaven1917.

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