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Bruins Feel Right at Home With 4-1 Victory Over Florida

Sunrise, Fla. — Seconds after Bruins forward Daniel Paille placed the puck into the Panthers’ empty net to ice a dismal 4-1 loss yesterday afternoon on national television, the public-address system in the BB&T Center blared the old Beatles hit, A Hard Days Night.

“Everything seems to be right when I’m home.”

Can you say twisted sense of humor.

There have been many hard days and nights, but nothing has gone right for the Panthers lately, especially at home where they have lost five straight (0-2-3) and seven of eight overall. They’re just 2-4-3 at home after going 21-9-11 last season.

“This will turn around somewhere down the line,” a grim Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “There’s a clear understanding on how we have to play. We can preach it and we can ask it. We have done a lot of talking, now it’s time for more direct action.”

Dineen, who rarely criticizes his players publicly, seems to have reached his boiling point after watching his team produce one or fewer goals for the ninth time in 18 games this season.

He was asked if his move to break up his most productive young line of Peter Mueller, Jonathan Huberdeau and Drew Shore by shifting slumping veteran center Stephen Weiss into Shore’s spot provided the spark he was looking for.

“Not at all,” Dineen bristled. “That was to do myself a favor. For the last year-and-a-half, I’ve looked down (on the bench) and if we we’re a man short or on the power play, whatever I need, I’m always looking at (Weiss’ number 9).

“That made it easier for me to have (Weiss) sitting there and not part of the equation with the quality of hockey he’s playing right now.”

By the third period, Weiss, who’s now a team-leading minus-11 and has just one goal in 14 games, was demoted to the fourth line and played just two shifts in a tight game.

It could’ve gotten tighter if the Panthers’ moribund power play could’ve scored during a 4-minute man advantage that bridged the end of the second and start of the third periods. They didn’t even manage a shot against Boston’s top-ranked PK unit that has stopped 21 consecutive power plays.

“It’s pretty obvious that our power play needs to wake up,” said Mueller, part of a power play that has produced one goal in its past 24 chances, including 0 for 17 at home. “It seems we can’t get anything going. I’ll take a hit on it. We just need to figure out a good formula.”

Dineen bypassed starting inconsistent goaltender Jose Theodore for the third consecutive game, opting to go with rookie Jacob Markstrom for the second straight time. Just like in Friday’s 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh, Markstrom earned the Third Star in a losing effort by making several sensational saves (28).

However, his counterpart, Tuukka Rask continued his dominance over the Panthers with 34 saves to improve to 5-1 with a sub-1.00 goals-against average.

A quick shot off the faceoff by Milan Lucic gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the first. They are now 7-0 when scoring first and at 11-2-2 are off to their best start in 36 years.

The game-winning goal came six minutes later when 6-foot-9 Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara pulled off a spectacular Lebron James-like spinning move and switched from his forehand to backhand before lifting it over the 6-foot-6 Markstrom for a quick 2-0 Bruins lead at 13:52.

Shore then set up Tomas Kopecky for a dirty goal in front to cut the deficit to 2-1 after one.

But despite a excellent stick check by Mueller to thwart a slot-shot by Paille, the puck dribbled to a wide-open Chris Kelly for a power-play tap-in early in the second for the backbreaker.

“It’s funny how that works,” Mueller said. “The way things are going it seems like that happens to us. It’s tough and frustrating.”