BOSTON (AP) — Milan Lucic scored twice and the Bruins spoiled goalie Tim Thomas’ first game in Boston as a visitor with a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
It was the third straight six-goal game for the Bruins, known more for their defense, following road wins of 6-1 and 6-3. The Atlantic Division leaders improved to 5-0-1 in their last six games.
Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2011 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. He spent one more season with them, took last season off and then joined the Panthers.
Zdeno Chara, Reilly Smith, Shawn Thornton and David Krejci also scored for Boston, which led 4-0 until Brad Boyes connected for Florida with 2:33 left in the second period. Dmitry Kulikov added a power-play goal for the Panthers 4 minutes into the third.
Fans applauded lightly when Thomas was introduced as the starting goalie. But after Thornton made it 5-2 just more than 8 minutes into the third period, they derisively chanted, “Thomas! Thomas!”
Thomas played for the first time against the Bruins on Oct. 17 in Boston’s 3-2 win in Florida. He traveled with the Panthers to Boston but did not play Nov. 7 in the Bruins’ 4-1 victory. Tuesday’s win was Boston’s sixth straight over Florida.
For the second consecutive game, the Bruins were the early aggressors, outshooting the Panthers 19-8 in the first period. On Monday night, Boston took 18 of the first 20 shots in a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders.
Lucic gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 7:41 of the first period on a rebound after Thomas stopped Jarome Iginla’s shot from the right circle.
Lucic also was initially credited with the second goal less than 8 minutes later when Chara’s 45-foot shot from the right appeared to hit him before bouncing over Thomas and trickling into the net. The scoring was changed when it was determined that the puck hit Thomas’ glove, not Lucic.
But that didn’t stop a few spectators from throwing hats on the ice early in the second, thinking Lucic had completed a hat trick when he scored his 15th of the season. Matt Bartkowski shot toward Thomas, Iginla got his stick on the puck in front and Lucic easily put the backhand rebound in.
Smith made it 4-0 with his team-leading 18th goal at 14:54 of the second. He took a pass across the slot from Carl Soderberg and beat Thomas to the open side of the net.
After Boyes ruined Tuukka Rask’s bid for his fourth shutout in 13 decisions, Kulikov made it 4-2. His goal ended an 0-for-43 power-play drought for the Panthers over their previous 13 games and the first two periods Tuesday.
Rask finished with 28 saves.
NOTES: Sean Bergenheim’s assist on Kulikov’s goal was his 150th NHL point. It came in his 100th game with the Panthers. … Bruins forward Chris Kelly played for the first time since missing 22 games with a broken leg. … Boston is 12-2 in its last 14 home games.