BOSTON — The Florida Panthers broke another lengthy skid and roared into first place with an impressive victory.
Roberto Luongo made 34 saves, and Jussi Jokinen and Vincent Trocheck each scored a goal and added an assist to put the Panthers atop the Atlantic Division with a 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
“Tonight was a huge win coming in here,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said, “and I don’t think we’ve won in here too often.”
Nope. They haven’t.
Reilly Smith and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for Florida, which won for the first time in 10 visits to Boston and passed idle Tampa Bay in the standings. Earlier this season, the Panthers ended a 10-game skid in Washington, a six-game losing streak in Columbus and a nine-game winless run in Nashville.
Luongo ended a rough stretch of his own, winning for the first time in eight starts in Boston dating to his three Stanley Cup losses for Vancouver in the 2011 finals.
Meanwhile, after feeling burned by instant replay in consecutive games and five straight losses, Boston is searching for answers.
With the Panthers leading 2-1 eight minutes into the third period, Patrice Bergeron thought he had tied the game when it appeared the puck went into the corner of the net. But after a lengthy review by the officials, the goal was disallowed.
“Looked like it was in and very conclusive. That’s two in two games now. It’s baffling, to say the least,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We think we have great technology, but we’re obviously still not getting it right.”
Julien added that he received a text message from another coach asking how that was not a goal.
“And that is coming from someone who is neutral,” Julien said.
“I was shocked,” Bergeron said. “But at the same time the rules are there, and I guess that’s what they went by.”
Boston had a goal disallowed against the Rangers in their last game that also would have tied the game.
“You know what, to be honest with you, when I saw it first happen, I thought it was a goal,” Gallant said. “Just because of the way it happened so quick, and Lu’s (Roberto Luongo) pad was coming across and I thought it was a goal.”
Ryan Spooner scored in the first period for Boston, which lost its fifth straight following a seven-game unbeaten streak. The Bruins’ lead over fourth place Detroit also shrank to one point after the Red Wings beat Montreal.
“Looked pretty clear. The puck was over the line,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “Very frustrating. Such a blatant call. We would have had momentum and ultimately it ended up costing us the game.”
Trocheck scored a short-handed goal to put Florida ahead 2-1 after wristing a shot past Tuukka Rask with 1:14 remaining in the second period.
Jokinen scored an insurance goal moments after the Bruins had killed a penalty for too many men on the ice to put Florida ahead 3-1 with 9:04 remaining. Huberdeau capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 21 seconds remaining.
For the second consecutive season, the Ides of March have struck the Bruins. Boston lost its fifth straight game since March 15th after dropping six straight starting that same day last season.
Rask made 32 saves for Boston, which has been outscored 18-6 in the last five games.
NOTES: Julien was honoured before the game for being the winningest coach in team history with 390, passing Art Ross. … Smith scored his career-high 24th goal and notched his eighth point in the last nine games. Smith was swapped for Bruins F Jimmy Hayes, who hasn’t recorded a point in 14 games. . Bruins D John-Michael Liles left late in the second period with a lower-body injury. … Jokinen leads the Panthers with 15 multipoint games and 27 road points, including 18 in his last 15 games. … Boston is scoreless in its last 13 power-play opportunities.