Bitz scores twice as Bruins topple Panthers

BOSTON (Ticker) — The Boston Bruins put the brakes on a skid,
thanks to a pair of their role players.

Rookie Byron Bitz scored two goals and Michael Ryder recorded a
goal and an assist in his return from a seven-game absence as
the Bruins toppled the Florida Panthers, 6-1, on Tuesday.

Patrice Bergeron and defensemen Aaron Ward and Mark Stuart
netted goals while Stephane Yelle and All-Star Marc Savard
notched two assists apiece for Boston, which had dropped six of
its last seven contests.

“We have had our issues in the past with protecting a lead, so
it was important for us to come out and play our best period of
the game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

Kamil Kreps scored the lone goal and Craig Anderson stopped 33
shots for the Panthers, who blanked Boston, 2-0, on Saturday.

“It wasn’t pretty, it was ugly,” Florida coach Peter DeBoer
said. “I didn’t think it was as bad as the score indicated. I
thought we spotted them two goals, which we can’t do to anybody,
especially the best team in league. I thought we got our legs
and battled a little bit.

“At the end of the first I thought we had a chance, they came
out and capitalized on their opportunities. I thought they
played a smart game and we started to push. Against a team like
that, when you try to open up, you’re going to give something up
and they capitalized.”

Kreps was a bit more blunt about his team’s third loss in five

“It was one of those nights when nothing was going in for us and
everything went in for them,” Kreps said.

Bergeron opened the scoring 48 seconds into the first period and
Stuart registered his career-high fifth goal of the season 5 1/2
minutes later by lifting a backhander over Anderson while
stationed on the doorstep.

“I thought it was just about working harder; we got outworked
and we know that Florida is a team that never stops,” Bergeron
said. “They are battling for a playoff spot and we went back to
what was giving us success, which is sticking to the system and
don’t force too many plays. When it is there, just take it.”

READ ALSO:  More goals the main goal for Capitals, Bruins as defensive-minded series turns toward Game 2

Kreps beat All-Star Tim Thomas with a wrist shot with 6:24
remaining in the session, but Bitz restored the two-goal bulge
with 4:07 left in the second by tipping in Yelle’s initial shot.

“I was trying to tip it up because if you tip it on net the way
goalies play, they try to take away the bottom part of the net
on something like that,” Bitz said. “So I knew if I was able to
redirect it up, it might have a chance.”

Bitz struck again at 3:24 of the third to secure his first
multi-goal effort of his career and Ward gave Boston a 5-1 lead
2:22 later.

“He got rewarded for doing some of the things that we have been
preaching for the last little while,” Julien said. “He is a guy
that with confidence and experience you are going to score more
goals and he demonstrated a little bit of that tonight.”

Ryder capped the offensive outburst at 9:31 of the session,
wristing the puck past Anderson in front of the crease for a
power-play tally. The 28-year-old had missed nearly three weeks
with facial fractures.

“I didn’t think about it too much,” Ryder said. “I just wanted
to make sure I got my legs and get into the game that way, I
knew it might be a little sluggish at first.”

Thomas made 24 saves for the Bruins, who improved to 20-4-4 at
home this season.

“It was very nice to have that good first step forward, but if
you just sit on your heels, it does not make a difference,”
Thomas said. “The Bergeron goal does not make a difference, it
is how you follow up and then feed off of it.”