SUNRISE, Fla. – A game between two surging goalies turned out to be no contest.
Phil Kessel scored his team-leading 16th goal and Manny Fernandez won his seventh consecutive start as the Boston Bruins beat the Florida Panthers 4-0 on Saturday night.
Kessel has scored in five straight games and has six goals in that span. He also owns the NHL’s longest current point streak – an 11-game run.
“Things are working, things are going to the net,” Kessel said. “When you win hockey games, it’s always fun. So any time you win, it’s a good time.”
Fernandez stopped 27 shots and notched his first shutout of the season. Michael Ryder, Shane Hnidy and Blake Wheeler also scored. David Krejci had three assists for the Bruins, who have won four straight and are 16-2-1 in their last 19 games.
Florida goalie Craig Anderson, starting his fifth straight game and on a three-game win streak, stopped 24 of 27 shots before he was injured at 7:13 into the third.
Boston’s Patrice Bergeron lost his footing and slid hard into Anderson, snapping the goalie’s head back and driving him into the net. The back of Anderson’s head then glanced off the crossbar. He skated off the ice and was replaced by Tomas Vokoun, who made four saves on five shots. After the game, Anderson appeared to be fine but didn’t talk to the media.
Fernandez was more concerned with the victory than the shutout.
“For myself, I couldn’t care less,” he said. “I really wanted to get the win. Everybody’s pitching in, everybody’s giving their 100 per cent, everybody’s battling, everybody’s playing their game every night.”
Florida had its three-game winning streak and six-game point streak snapped. They were shut out for the first time since a 4-0 loss at St. Louis on Oct. 25.
“We had our chances and couldn’t score, they had their chances and they scored,” said Florida’s Radek Dvorak, whose line accounted for nine goals and 12 assists in six games.
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead on Ryder’s goal at 9:02 of the first. Ryder got tangled up with Gregory Campbell, but fought him off and took a shot from the slot that went between Anderson’s pads.
That turned out to be all the scoring Boston needed.
“Right from the start, I thought we were moving the puck well, we had control of the game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We got that early goal that gave us the lead, and we went from there.”
A power-play goal by Kessel gave Boston a 2-0 lead at 2:44 of the second. Kessel’s shot from the left point went through traffic and got past Anderson on the far side.
A slapshot by Hnidy from the blue line deflected off defenceman Nick Boynton and into the net at 2:21 of the third.
Wheeler’s one-timer got past Vokoun at 13:36 of the third to stretch Boston’s lead to 4-0.
Florida played without three of its top four scorers, who are out due to injuries.
“We were overmatched. We would have needed everything to go right and we didn’t get it,” Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. “They took advantage of our roster and dismantled us fairly easily. We could have been out there for three days and still not scored.”
Notes: Fernandez’s winning streak is the longest by a Boston goalie since Andrew Raycroft won six straight from Jan. 7-20, 2004. … Boston D Dennis Wideman, who missed Thursday’s game with an undisclosed injury, returned to the lineup and had an assist. … Krejci has an eight-game point streak. … Florida LW Rostislav Olesz sat out due to a pulled groin. … The Panthers recalled C Janis Sprukts from Rochester (AHL). He played 13 games for the Panthers during the 2006-07 season.