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Panthers-Bruins Preview

AP - Sports

The Boston Bruins don't seem fazed by their recent struggles.

Perhaps having Tuukka Rask available for another meeting with the Florida Panthers is a reason why.

The Bruins look to continue their success against the visiting Panthers and send them to their longest losing streak in over two years Thursday night.

Boston (8-5-1) is 1-3-1 in its last five games, with that lone victory coming 3-2 last Thursday in a shootout against Anaheim. The Bruins have scored three goals while losing two games since, including a 3-2 shootout defeat against Dallas on Tuesday to open this five-game homestand.

"We're going through a phase right now that we go through every year," coach Claude Julien told the team's official website. "It's not the best of times, so you want to turn the tide as soon as you can. Get the game back that you know you're team has in them. Right now, it's a bit of a struggle.

"You always hope that the next game is the game where things start going in the right direction."

Starting Rask against the Panthers would seem a good way for Julien's team to avoid its first three-game skid. Rask has won seven straight starts against Florida (3-8-4), posting a 0.85 goals-against average and three shutouts.

The Bruins have won four straight and six of the last seven meetings. Reilly Smith's goal in the final minute gave them a 3-2 victory in Florida on Oct. 17.

Boston has outscored the Panthers 15-1 during a three-game home win streak, with Brad Marchand scoring four goals and assisting on four others.

Marchand, though, has only four points this season and has gone 12 games without a goal since tallying in a win over Detroit on Oct. 5.

The Panthers have lost nine of their past 10 games and six in a row (0-2-4). They suffered their first overtime loss of season, 4-3 to Edmonton on Tuesday.

"Those are points that are slipping away," coach Kevin Dineen said.

A defeat in any fashion to the Bruins would give Florida its longest skid since a 10-game slide March 19-April 8, 2011.

Production from Jonathan Huberdeau would help keep the Panthers from moving closer to matching that dubious mark. He has an assist in each of the last two games, but hasn't scored a goal in eight games, starting with the latest matchup versus the Bruins.

The reigning Calder Trophy winner has no goals in four career meetings.

Scottie Upshall scored his first two goals of the season Tuesday, and has nine goals and two assists in 14 career games against Boston.

It's unclear if the Panthers will have Tim Thomas in net since he's dealing with a lower-body injury and hasn't played since Oct. 22. If healthy, Thomas would make his first appearance in Boston since spending his first eight NHL seasons with the Bruins, helping them to the 2011 Stanley Cup while becoming the second American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Thomas made 37 saves in his first meeting with the Bruins last month.

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