Rapid Reaction: Bruins 4, Panthers 1

BOSTON -- David Krejci registered a hat trick to lead the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Teammate Jarome Iginla also scored, while goaltender Chad Johnson finished with 23 saves. The NHL's trade deadline arrives at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and whether or not Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli makes a deal, Boston looks like a Stanley Cup contender again this season.

The Bruins gained an early 1-0 lead when Krejci scored an unassisted goal at 7:29 of the first period. Teammate Gregory Campbell created a fierce forecheck behind the Florida net that forced a turnover and Krejci was there to pump in his 14th goal of the season.

Boston added to its lead when Iginla notched his 19th of the season to give Boston a 2-0 advantage at 11:01 of the first period. Old friend Tim Thomas made the initial save on Jordan Caron's shot, but the goalie allowed a long rebound as Iginla, who was crashing the net, took a shot from the right faceoff dot and beat the sprawling netminder.

The Bruins held their two-goal lead until Krejci netted his second of the game at 19:12 of the second period to give Boston a 3-0 advantage. He gained control of the puck in the slot and fired a wrister past Thomas to the top left corner. It was Krejci's 15th goal of the season.

Florida registered its first goal when the Panthers' Brian Campbell was credited with the tally after his shot was redirected past Johnson by the stick of Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski at 12:47 of the third period.

Krejci nearly recorded the hat trick late in the game, but his off-post attempt was stopped by Thomas, leaving Krejci incredulous. But with 13.3 seconds remaining in regulation, Krejci netted an empty-net goal from the red line for the hat trick.

SAVE OF THE GAME: With the game scoreless early in first period, Thomas turned in the save of the game when he robbed Patrice Bergeron with 13:14 remaining. Bergeron received a pass on the off-post and had a wide-open net, but Thomas was able to get the paddle down and make the save.

NO LOUI: Bruins forward Loui Eriksson was sidelined due to a "minor issue," according to Bruins coach Claude Julien. Prior to Tuesday's game, Eriksson had missed 20 games earlier this season due to a pair of concussions. He's expected to be back in the lineup Thursday against the Washington Capitals. Caron, who often has been a healthy scratch and had been limited to 25 games this season, replaced Eriksson on the third line, along with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg. Early in the second period, Caron fell and slammed into the boards behind the Florida net. He made it to his feet and finished his shift before going down the tunnel, followed by team doctors. He returned later and finished the game.

DROP 'EM: At 4:26 of the first period, the Bruins' Milan Lucic and the Panthers' Krys Barch dropped the gloves near the Florida bench. Barch landed a few punches before the linesmen separated the two. It was Lucic's fifth fighting major of the season and he now has 69 penalty minutes, tying Adam McQuaid for the team lead in that category. The Bruins' Shawn Thornton then went toe-to-toe with Barch at 11:56 of the second period. They dropped the gloves off the faceoff to the right of Thomas in the Florida end, but didn't start to throw punches until they were both standing at center ice. Thornton fared better than Lucic, but Barch still landed a few good rights. It was Thornton's eighth fighting major of the season and his 100th as a Bruin.

UP NEXT: The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m. The Bruins will host the Washington Capitals Thursday (7 p.m.) at TD Garden.