Bitz scores twice as Bruins topple Panthers

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BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Bruins put the brakes on a skid,

thanks to a pair of their role players.

Rookie Byron Bitz scored two goals and Michael Ryder recorded a

goal and an assist in his return from a seven-game absence as

the Bruins toppled the Florida Panthers, 6-1, on Tuesday.

Patrice Bergeron and defensemen Aaron Ward and Mark Stuart

netted goals while Stephane Yelle and All-Star Marc Savard

notched two assists apiece for Boston, which had dropped six of

its last seven contests.

"We have had our issues in the past with protecting a lead, so

it was important for us to come out and play our best period of

the game," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

Kamil Kreps scored the lone goal and Craig Anderson stopped 33

shots for the Panthers, who blanked Boston, 2-0, on Saturday.

"It wasn't pretty, it was ugly," Florida coach Peter DeBoer

said. "I didn't think it was as bad as the score indicated. I

thought we spotted them two goals, which we can't do to anybody,

especially the best team in league. I thought we got our legs

and battled a little bit.

"At the end of the first I thought we had a chance, they came

out and capitalized on their opportunities. I thought they

played a smart game and we started to push. Against a team like

that, when you try to open up, you're going to give something up

and they capitalized."

Kreps was a bit more blunt about his team's third loss in five

contests.

"It was one of those nights when nothing was going in for us and

everything went in for them," Kreps said.

Bergeron opened the scoring 48 seconds into the first period and

Stuart registered his career-high fifth goal of the season 5 1/2

minutes later by lifting a backhander over Anderson while

stationed on the doorstep.

"I thought it was just about working harder; we got outworked

and we know that Florida is a team that never stops," Bergeron

said. "They are battling for a playoff spot and we went back to

what was giving us success, which is sticking to the system and

don't force too many plays. When it is there, just take it."

Kreps beat All-Star Tim Thomas with a wrist shot with 6:24

remaining in the session, but Bitz restored the two-goal bulge

with 4:07 left in the second by tipping in Yelle's initial shot.

"I was trying to tip it up because if you tip it on net the way

goalies play, they try to take away the bottom part of the net

on something like that," Bitz said. "So I knew if I was able to

redirect it up, it might have a chance."

Bitz struck again at 3:24 of the third to secure his first

multi-goal effort of his career and Ward gave Boston a 5-1 lead

2:22 later.

"He got rewarded for doing some of the things that we have been

preaching for the last little while," Julien said. "He is a guy

that with confidence and experience you are going to score more

goals and he demonstrated a little bit of that tonight."

Ryder capped the offensive outburst at 9:31 of the session,

wristing the puck past Anderson in front of the crease for a

power-play tally. The 28-year-old had missed nearly three weeks

with facial fractures.

"I didn't think about it too much," Ryder said. "I just wanted

to make sure I got my legs and get into the game that way, I

knew it might be a little sluggish at first."

Thomas made 24 saves for the Bruins, who improved to 20-4-4 at

home this season.

"It was very nice to have that good first step forward, but if

you just sit on your heels, it does not make a difference,"

Thomas said. "The Bergeron goal does not make a difference, it

is how you follow up and then feed off of it."

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