Dazzling debut: Bertuzzi helps Panthers blow out Bruins

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Todd Bertuzzi scored the Florida Panthers'
first goal of the season, then hoisted both hands into the air.

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

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
offseason 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 centering pass from Bertuzzi at 9:01 of the
second for a 4-2 lead, then scored again at 1:23 of the third

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

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

"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

Game 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.