Bruins Nab Playoff Spot on Carter Hat Trick|
By Ray Van Horn, Jr. Copyright 1999
It took them a full period to get warmed up, but the Boston Bruins clinched an Eastern Division playoff berth with a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers that was fueled by an Anson Carter hat trick.
With a loss the same evening by the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers desperately needed to win the April 7th matchup in order to stay alive in the playoff hunt.
The injury-plagued Panthers came to play, seizing the lead at 4:32 into the game, as Robert Svehla, who was left unchecked at the Boston blue line, took advantage of a misaligned Bruins defense and ripped a slapshot for a top-shelf goal past goalie Byron DaFoe's left side. Svehla's 8th goal for the season gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead that would not stand for long.
The Bruins charged right back in the second, keeping the puck in Florida's zone and exploiting the Panther's miscues, resulting in three Boston points during the period.
Rob DiMaio led the Bruins attack with his 7th goal of the year at 2:42. He caught the rubber in midair and tossed it ahead of him as he squirmed past Florida's Peter Ratchuk and broke away, deking goalie Kirk McLean and slipping it between the faked-out netminder's legs.
Anson Carter picked up his first goal on the night by intercepting a pass intended for Florida's Jeff Ware. McLean missed an attempted poke check, leaving himself open as Carter scored at 9:38 of the period.
Dmitri Khristich added to the Bruins' lead at 13:27, launching a power play slapshot after he'd stolen the puck from the Panthers, who had failed to clear it. It was Khristich's 24th.
Byron DaFoe added bonus thrills to his team's strong play in the second by showing off some dandy stick saves.
The third period saw a valiant, but futile effort by Florida to come back as they penetrated the Bruins zone and opened up numerous scoring chances. Boston appeared content at first to play a conservative defensive scheme for the remainder of the game.
That changed, however, at 10:06, as Anson Carter capitalized on a Peter Ratchuk turnover, chipping in a backhanded shot off of his own rebound, sending the game to a 4-1 Bruin lead.
Florida responded with a Ryan Johnson tally at 13:51, with the set up by Peter Worrell and Terry Kardner. Up from the AHL's Beast of New Haven, the goal was Johnson's first in the NHL.
Anson Carter struck again for his hat trick at 18:16 on a power play that Ray Borque had initialized. Carter has scored 9 goals in his last 13 games, and, with his 3 for this game, lifted him to 21 on the season.
The Bruins have worked hard to make the playoffs. They are currently 14-4-4 in their last 22 games. Their power play has helped them along, as they have scored at least one power play goal in their last 10 games (including 2 in this game).
On the flipside, the near-finished Panthers have given up at least one power play goal in their last 10 games.
On the strength of his team's play, Ray Borque noted, "Right now, I believe we're strong in all areas."
Copyright©1999 The HockeyNut