EditorsNote: Adds injuries to Carlo and Nash
Jake DeBrusk had two goals and an assist in his return from an upper-body injury and Tuukka Rask made 30 saves to help lead the Boston Bruins past the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Saturday afternoon in Boston.
DeBrusk had missed the last eight games with his injury, but made his presence felt quickly with an assist on Nick Holden’s first-period goal before netting his 15th goal of the season later in the period. He added his 16th late in the second.
Holden (4th goal), Ryan Donato (4) and Patrice Bergeron (29) accounted for the rest of the offense as the Bruins moved one point clear of Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with their fourth win in five games.
The Bruins took over first with Thursday’s 4-2 win against Tampa Bay before the Lightning reclaimed the top spot with a win Friday.
Jamie McGinn (13) had a goal and James Reimer had 19 saves for Florida, which dropped its third straight. The Panthers entered Saturday’s contest three points behind New Jersey for the East’s second wild-card spot.
Reimer was pulled after the Bruins’ fifth goal and replaced by Roberto Luongo, who had nine saves. It was Reimer’s 300th career NHL game.
Boston lost defenseman Brandon Carlo and center Riley Nash to injuries during Saturday’s game. Carlo was removed via stretcher with a potentially serious leg injury, while Nash was struck in the ear with a shot and required stitches, according to coach Bruce Cassidy.
The Panthers beat the Bruins 3-0 in their first meeting March 15. The first scheduled game between Florida and Boston on Jan. 4 was postponed due to snow.
McGinn scored with 15:01 remaining in the first period to put Florida up, but goals from Holden (8:45 left) and DeBrusk (5:54 left) had Boston up 2-1 going into the second.
Donato scored 1:32 into the second before Bergeron (power play, 6:20 left) and DeBrusk (3:28) added goals to put the game out of reach.
David Pastrnak recorded his 200th NHL point with an assist on Bergeron’s goal.
Boston starts a three-game road trip on Easter Sunday in Philadelphia. Florida faces Carolina on Monday in the first of a four-game homestand that includes another game against the Bruins on Thursday.
—Field Level Media