SUNRISE, Fla. — “Frank the Tank” gave streaking a bad name in the comedy classic “Old School” but right now a number of Boston Bruins are putting a positive spin on a different type of streaking.
Possibly the hottest pair of black-and-gold sweater-wearers are goaltender Manny Fernandez and winger Phil Kessel, who both led the way to a 4-0 win over the Florida Panthers tonight at the BankAtlantic Center.
Fernandez, who recorded his first shutout of the season with 27 saves, now has a seven-game winning streak — the longest by a Bruins goaltender since Jon Casey in 1994. And Fernandez’s points streak of nine games is the longest since John Grahame went 8-0-1 in 2002. Fernandez is quick to defer all compliments to his teammates.
“They just seem to read off what’s going on back there. If you need help, they’re guys to count on and they’re strong,” said Fernandez after the win. “First period, I was fighting the puck a little bit and they were able to bail me out. And as the game went on, I got a little bit quieter and seemed to control the rebounds a little better.”
The Bruins, who swept a two-game Florida road trip, received offensive support for Fernandez from Kessel, Michael Ryder, Shane Hnidy and Blake Wheeler. Kessel’s goal extended the lead to 2-0 in the second period, as he snapped one through a screen from the left wing, his off wing. He now has a 11-game points streak and a five-game goal-scoring streak heading toward Monday’s home tilt with Tampa Bay.
“Obviously, I prefer to shoot from that side. You snap it off and you’ve got a little more angle on the guy. But it doesn’t matter either way as long as you get your chances. My linemates have been finding me, so right now it’s easy for me,” said Kessel.
Like Fernandez, Kessel threw all praise for his recent bang-up performance to the players around him – namely linemates Marc Savard and Milan Lucic.
“Things are working. Pucks are going in the net,” he said. “Obviously, Looch and Savvy are helping me out a lot. Savvy’s finding me, Looch is making a lot of room and he’s making good plays out there too. So they’re helping me out.”
One play Fernandez could not credit his teammates for was Jay Bouwmeester’s point-blank chance early in the third period when the Bruins lead was still just two goals. Fernandez came up big, and with a little help from the crossbar later in the period, he recorded the 15th shutout of his NHL career.
“I like that stat; it’s a good team stat,” he said in conclusion. “For myself, I could care less. I really wanted to get the win tonight. They’re a team that’s been on a roll of their own. I know their goalie was on a hot streak. For us to come in and really fight this and make sure we kept our game throughout this game was tough, but we managed to do it and this was a good trip for us.”
•A scary moment occured at 7:13 of the third period, when Bruins center Patrice Bergeron endured a head-on-head collision with Florida goaltender Craig Anderson. While Anderson had to leave the game, Bergeron got up and never missed a shift — a good sign for a player just a season removed from a Grade 3 collision.
“He was fine. … It’s probably good for him to see that we was able to crash into a net and get up with no situation, I guess,” head coach Claude Julien said.
•Defenseman Dennis Wideman missed Thursday’s game in Tampa but returned to the line-up and recorded an assist during his 24:10 of ice time. Johnny Boychuk was the healthy scratch.