The Boston Bruins had lost four straight for the first time this season heading into their latest game, but all they needed to get back in the win column was a matchup with a Southeast Division opponent.
Another one probably won’t hurt.
The Bruins look to continue their dominance over the Southeast when they continue a five-game road trip Saturday night against the Florida Panthers, whom they’ve beaten convincingly in their first two meetings.
Boston (40-10-8) has the most points in the NHL but picked up only two from Feb. 7-14, going 0-2-2 in that span.
After one-goal losses in New Jersey and Nashville to begin this trip, the Bruins headed to Carolina on Tuesday and completed a season sweep of the Hurricanes, getting goals from five players in a 5-1 victory.
“Whenever you’re in a slide as a team, you want to go back to doing the little things. That’s throwing pucks at the net and crashing the net,” said defenseman Shane Hnidy, who scored the winner in the second period. “We needed to get some goals. It came easy for us at the beginning of the year, and in this slide, sometimes the bounces don’t go your way.”
Boston outscored Carolina 18-6 in winning all four meetings this season, but the Hurricanes haven’t been the only Southeast team dominated by the Northeast leaders. The Bruins are 1-2-0 versus Washington but 12-0-0 against the other four teams in the division, outscoring those clubs 52-22.
The Bruins conclude their trip Sunday in Tampa before opening a six-game homestand against Florida (29-21-8) on Tuesday.
Thomas was excellent as usual Tuesday, holding an opponent to one goal for the fourth time in his last six starts. The most significant development out of the win in Carolina, though, was a pair of power-play goals. The Bruins had been 2-for-36 with a manpower advantage in their last nine games before Blake Wheeler and Chuck Kobasew converted against the Hurricanes.
Boston is 16-for-56 (28.6 percent) on the power play against Southeast opponents.
The Panthers could use a little confidence against the Bruins considering they may see them in the postseason. Florida has 66 points, putting it in a tie with Buffalo for seventh place in the East.
The Panthers will be closing a five-game homestand Saturday after splitting the first four contests. Florida earned an impressive 4-0 victory over Atlantic-leading New Jersey on Tuesday, only to fall 4-0 to Chicago on Thursday.
“I think we got the deserved result tonight,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I think they were the better team and that’s a team that we have to bring our A-plus game against or they expose you, and they did tonight.”
Florida’s power play, like Boston’s, has been a problem lately. The Panthers are 2-for-30 with a manpower advantage in their last eight games, and they’re among the league’s bottom five teams for the season at 15.6 percent.
Florida is 0-for-12 on the power play in its last four games against the Bruins.
David Booth leads the Panthers with 20 goals, but hasn’t scored in nine straight games. Booth recorded a goal in his only game versus Boston this season.