Florida Panthers defenceman Nick Boynton, right, throws a punch during a fight with Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic during the second period. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Charles Krupa)
BOSTON - The Boston Bruins are right on schedule.
Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron had a goal and an assist each to lead Boston to its eighth victory in nine games, a 4-2 decision over Florida on Friday night that moved the Bruins into a tie for the Eastern Conference lead.
"One of the things they preached at the start of the season was positioning," defenceman Aaron Ward said. "Teams that position themselves well by Thanksgiving have a tendency to really put themselves in good position at the end of the year."
The Bruins, 11-1-1 in their last 13 games and the winners of seven straight at home, matched the idle New York Rangers with 30 points in the conference race.
"I don't think we feel too good about ourselves," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Our team has not had to face this kind of thing for a long time ... being in first place."
Phil Kessel and David Krejci added goals for Boston.
David Booth and Ville Peltonen scored for Florida, which ended a stretch of eight games in the last 10 on the road. The Panthers play the next three games at home.
"It's been a tough few weeks," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "A team like (Boston), they'll sting you. You make one mistake and it's in the net."
The victory was also only the second for the Bruins in their last nine home games against Florida. The Panthers are one of only two NHL teams - Minnesota is the other - with winning records against the Bruins in Boston.
Savard, who has two goals and nine assists during a five-game points streak and three goals and 15 assists in the last 17 games, sent Kessel in on a breakaway to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead just 2:46 of the first period. Kessel has goals in each of the last three games and three goals and three assists during a five-game points streak. He is the first Bruin to 10 goals this season.
After Booth tied it, Bergeron tipped Matt Hunwick's shot past Tomas Vokoun for his first goal in eight games. David Krejci and Savard scored in the second period as the Bruins peppered Vokoun with 35 shots in the first 40 minutes.
"You can't spot a team like that a couple of goals," Vokoun said.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas made 30 saves to improve to 5-0-1 in his last six games.
Ville Peltonen scored his first goal of the season late to make it closer.
Booth's goal came on a breakaway and was first ruled no goal, even though it appeared to be in. A review confirmed Booth's sixth goal in the last nine games.
The Bruins, who haven't lost in regulation this month, are one game from matching their longest home winning streak since Nov. 2-29, 2002. They will face the New York Islanders on Nov. 29 after two straight road games.
Notes: Bruins left wing Marco Sturm missed his second straight game because of an upper-body injury and is day-to-day. Boston defenceman Matt Lashoff, recalled earlier in the week, was a healthy scratch. ... Friday night marked the Bruins' first Friday night home game since Dec. 23, 1977 and was also "Slapshot Night," honouring the movie. "Hanson brother" Steve Carlson was on hand and fans receiving "Hanson" glasses. ... The Bruins are in the midst of a stretch of 10 games in 18 nights and are in Montreal Saturday night, their fourth game in six nights this week. ... The Panthers concluded a stretch of eight road games in their last 10. They lost 3-1 in New Jersey on Thursday night. ... Panthers defenceman Bryan McCabe had two assists and has three goals and five assists in a six-game points streak. ... Florida scratched defenceman Jassen Cullimore (right knee) and left wing Rostislav Olesz (healthy).