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STATS Writer
A dominant defense has contributed to the Boston Bruins' success in 2008-09, but they weren't at their best in their latest performance.
The Bruins look to bounce back from a sloppy effort, while securing a season-high seventh straight home win on Friday against the Florida Panthers.
Boston (12-3-4) ranks among the best defensive teams in the league, yielding an Eastern Conference-low 45 goals behind netminders Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez, who have compiled a collective 2.11 goals-against average.
The duo has been particularly stingy in November, surrendering 14 goals while holding opponents to fewer than three goals in six of eight games.
But on Wednesday, Fernandez and the Bruins faced a 4-2 first-period deficit before rallying with five unanswered goals to beat visiting Buffalo 7-4.
Zdeno Chara and Chuck Kobasew scored two goals apiece, while Marc Savard had a goal and three assists to give him 600 points for his career as Boston improved to 7-0-1 since its last regulation defeat on Oct. 30.
"We got ourselves in trouble early and that is uncharacteristic of our team to give up those kinds of opportunities," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Throughout the course of an 82-game season there will be some ugly wins, but we will take them any way we can get them."
Fernandez hasn't started back-to-back games this season, meaning Thomas will likely be in the net on Friday. Thomas boasts a 1.34 GAA and a .958 save percentage in winning six of his last eight contests, but is 1-5-1 with a 4.97 GAA in eight career games against Florida.
Since a three-game slide from Oct. 20-23, Julien's club has posted a 10-1-1 mark while winning six straight at the TD Banknorth Garden in that stretch. It's the Bruins' longest home winning streak since reeling off eight straight wins from Nov. 2-29, 2002.
Savard has been a key to that home success, providing a team-leading nine points through those eight games.
The center - the Bruins' leader with 18 assists and 25 points - also has a goal and eight assists during a four-game point streak, and has seven goals and 32 points in 28 lifetime contests versus the Panthers (7-9-1).
Boston split last season's four-game series with Florida. The Bruins have lost five straight at home in the series, although two of those games went past regulation.
Florida, however, is 3-7-1 on the road this season. After kicking off its three-game swing with a 4-3 shootout win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday, it fell 3-1 to New Jersey on Thursday.
Rookie Michael Frolik scored his first NHL goal for the Panthers, who have dropped two of five following an 0-5-1 skid.
"We played very good in the second and third period, but the first one wasn't good and coach was upset," Frolik said.
Bryan McCabe assisted on Frolik's goal, pushing his point streak to five games in which he has three goals and three assists. In 58 career games against Boston, the defenseman has eight goals and 35 points - his most against any opponent.
Tomas Vokoun, who is 1-6-0 with a 3.45 GAA in his last seven road games, has compiled a 2.37 GAA in winning three of his last five starts versus Boston.
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