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Bertuzzi's goal, three assists lead Panthers to 8-3 rout of Bruins

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Bertuzzi's goal, three assists lead Panthers to 8-3 rout of Bruins

The Canadian Press
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He repeated that celebratory routine often in his Florida debut. Bertuzzi had three assists - capping his first four-point night since Feb. 25, 2003 and tying a career high - and Joe Nieuwendyk had two goals and an assist as the Panthers opened with an 8-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Friday night.

"It's nice to get that out of the way," Bertuzzi said. "But most importantly, it was the win. We needed a strong team effort to get off right. ... It was a matter of getting going tonight, and we did."

It was the worst opening-night loss for the Bruins since a 9-4 defeat to Montreal on Oct. 9, 1975.

Alex Auld, who came to the Panthers with Bertuzzi in the off-season trade that sent all-star goalie Roberto Luongo to Vancouver, stopped 34 shots for Florida.

Mike Van Ryn, Juraj Kolnik, Nathan Horton, Chris Gratton and Olli Jokinen also scored for the Panthers, while Ruslan Salei, Rostislav Olesz and Jozef Stumpel each had two assists.

"It was a lot of fun," Auld said. "And, obviously, it's great to get that kind of support at the other end."

Marco Sturm had a goal and an assist, Glen Murray and Wayne Primeau each had a goal, and Zdeno Chara added two assists for Boston, which has two wins in its last 11 season openers.

"We had energy at the start of the first period and the start of the second period," Bruins coach Dave Lewis said. "Somewhere along the way, we lost our mojo. ... We're not going to throw away a month's preparation for the start of the season after one game."

The Bruins drew within 3-2 early in the second period on Murray's goal, but Florida scored the next five to take control. Nieuwendyk tapped in a centring pass from Bertuzzi at 9:01 of the second for a 4-2 lead, then scored again at 1:23 of the third period.

Nieuwendyk's goals gave him 561 for his career, pushing him past Guy LaFleur for 19th on the NHL's career list.

"I have a lot of respect for Guy. I grew up idolizing him," Nieuwendyk said. "To have an opportunity to go ahead of him on the all-time goals list is a great thrill."

Horton got a power-play score at 6:34 of the third, then set up Gratton for the goal that knocked Bruins goalie Tim Thomas out of the game at 8:21. Thomas stopped 27 of 34 shots, before being relieved by Hannu Toivonen - who allowed Jokinen's goal with 4:56 left.

Florida was 4-for-6 on the power play; Boston 1-for-8.

"It's certainly not the opening game of the season I expected or wanted," Thomas said.

Bertuzzi scored Florida's first goal at 6:33 of the opening period, gathering the rebound of Jokinen's shot and quickly tucking it past Thomas.

"I was pretty jacked up," Bertuzzi said. "Obviously, you want to get one ... to get it over with."

Van Ryn made it 2-0 when he took a diagonal pass from Stumpel and fired the puck past Thomas' near side 47 seconds after Bertuzzi's score.

Boston got within 2-1 when Sturm, camped out to the right of the net, collected Marc Savard's pass and - despite a poor angle - beat Auld from close range. But Kolnik restored Florida's two-goal edge at 18:29 of the first, spinning in the slot to push a rebound of Jay Bouwmeester's shot into an open net.

Murray's goal cut the margin to 3-2 but it was all Florida from there, at least until Primeau's unassisted tally with 53.9 seconds left.

"We'll enjoy the two points," said Panthers coach Jacques Martin, whose team visits Atlanta to continue a six-game, nine-day stretch Saturday. "But we've got to get back to work tomorrow night."

Notes: Nieuwendyk has 45 points in 42 games against the Bruins. ... Florida had never previously scored more than four goals in a season opener. ... Boston had just six players back from the opening game of the 2005-06 season. ... The Panthers killed two separate power plays in a span of 4:12 during the first period.

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Bertuzzi's goal, three assists lead Panthers to 8-3 rout of Bruins