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From the Garden: Krejci Leads Bruins; Thomas talks Luongo

TD GARDEN – It was clear that Milan Lucic was trying to force the puck to David Krejci in the waning moments of the Bruins 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Reilly Smith plays a 'hat trick' on David Krejci after Krejci scored his third goal against Florida. (Getty Images)

Reilly Smith plays a ‘hat trick’ on David Krejci after Krejci scored his third goal against Florida. (Getty Images)

Krejci had already scored two goals and Lucic wanted to get his linemate the hat trick. An empty net made things even more enticing.

“We obviously recognized the situation and he had two at the time with an empty net,” said Lucic.

With 13 seconds left on the clock, and the Bruins up 3-1, Lucic fired one over to Krejci through traffic and Krejci – from the red line – sent the puck into the open goal for his third of the game.

“I didn’t think I had another option and I also knew I had two goals already, so why not go for it, right?” Krejci said after the game.

Krejci got things started for the Bruins at 7:29 of the first period. The center did it all on his first tally. First, Krejci forced a turnover in the neutral zone and dumped the puck into the corner. Gregory Campbell hard forecheck forced another Florida giveaway. Krejci then picked up the puck and took it to the net. Patiently holding onto the puck out front, Krejci forced Panthers goalie Tim Thomas to dive giving him an open net.

With 47 seconds to go in the second, Krejci made it 3-0. Kevan Miller’s shot from the point was blocked down in front of the net and popped out straight to Krejci. Krejci then rocketed a wrister over the shoulder of Thomas.

“Dave has always been a pass-first kind of guy, but he’s got a good shot,” said coach Claude Julien. “I think his approach this year has been a little bit more about shooting. Even being on the point on the power play, I’ve seen him where times he would never shoot, but this year he’s taking the shots when that shooting lane is there.

“It’s probably more confidence in his shot, and he does have a good shot and it’s nice to see him use it.”

NOTE: Shawn Thornton (11:56 of the second) and Milan Lucic (4:26 of the first) both fought Panthers tough guy Krys Barch.

PUMPING THE TIRES

Everyone remembers the epic back-and-forth between then-Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo and then-Bruins goalie Tim Thomas during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Luongo was upset that Thomas wasn’t “pumping his tires” and Thomas responded by saying he didn’t know it was his job “to pump other people’s tires.”

On Tuesday, the two became teammates. The Canucks traded Luongo, along with forward Steven Anthony, to the Panthers in exchange for goalie Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias.

Following the Panthers 4-1 loss to Boston, Thomas made his first comments on the trade. The former Bruins said he believes the two can co-exist – if Thomas remains a Panther.

“Yeah, but now I’ve got to see the situation and see what they’re thinking. I’d like to check in with [Panthers GM] Dale [Tallon] before I really comment on anything,” said Thomas when asked if he would like to stay with Florida.

Of course, Thomas couldn’t resist making a reference to 2011.

“I did have one good line that probably someone else has thought up, but it looks like Dale went kicking some tires and found one that needed to be pumped,” Thomas quipped.

Luongo returns to Florida where he played five seasons from 2000-2006.

ERIKSSON SITS, ‘NERVOUS’ CARON STEPS IN

Loui Eriksson sat out Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers with what coach Claude Julien termed as “an issue.”

“That’s my choice of words there,” said Julien. “I know it bothers you [the media] but that’s my choice of words. He’ll be back Thursday.”

Many speculated that Eriksson sitting out was a way for Jordan Caron to get into the lineup as a showcase prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline.

“Of course a little bit nervous, but that’s out of my control,” said Caron of the impending deadline. “So I’ll try to get some sleep tonight and we’ll see what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Caron had an assist on the Bruins second goal of the night. The winger used his speed on the outside to gain separation from the defenseman and fired a shot on goal. The rebound popped out to the right circle, where Jarome Iginla buried it with a hardy slap shot.

“I thought he played well. I thought he played hard,” said Julien. “He — obviously Iggy’s goal is a result of his hard work and shot at the net and bringing the puck up the ice. You know, he was very physical and he grinded, he skated well. So for a guy who hadn’t played in a long time, I thought he was really good for us tonight. I really liked his game.”

The winger was a plus-2, registered two hits and also had two penalties in 12:18 of ice time.

AMERICAN PRIDE

The Bruins honored 10 local Olympians before Tuesday night’s game. Snowboard cross bronze medalist Alex Deibold (Manchester, VT); figure skating bronze medalists Marissa Castelli (Cranston, RI) and Simon Shnapir (Sudbury, MA); bobsled double-bronze medalist Steve Langton (Melrose, MA); and USA women’s hockey silver medalists Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, MA), Alex Carpenter (North Reading, MA), Meghan Duggan (Danvers, MA), Michelle Picard (Taunton, MA), Molly Schaus (Natick, MA), and Kelli Stack (Boston College) all came out to drop the ceremonial first puck.

Patrice Bergeron, who won the gold medal for Team Canada in mens’ hockey, took the draw.

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