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Panthers show they are for real with win at Bruins

BOSTON (Reuters) - The Florida Panthers proved they can compete with the very best in the National Hockey League with a 2-0 win at defending Stanley Cup champions Boston on Thursday.

Slovak Tomas Kopecky scored from the slot with 2:32 left on the clock to put the Panthers in front and then Kris Versteeg scored into an empty net near the end.

Florida netminder Jose Theodore was in outstanding form, stopping all 40 shots he faced.

Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen was not overly pleased with his team's backs-to-the-wall performance in the first two periods but the result sent a clear message that his team know how to grind out a win.

"We had to weather a pretty big storm, we had to find a way to will ourselves into this one, I don't think we can play like that on a consistent basis and win ... but anytime you come here and win ... it is a pleasing win," he said.

The Panthers moved above Boston into second place in the Eastern Conference, behind leaders Philadelphia.

Boston failed to make the most of their opportunities with Adam McQuaid, Dennis Siedenberg and Patrice Bergeron all going close.

Having survived, Florida showed their killer instinct with Kopecky reacting quickly after an end-to-end rush from Shawn Matthias.

"It was like a typical playoff game, very tight around the ice. After the second period we said we had to be patient and stick to the game plan and I think we did and we deserved it," said Kopecky.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)