The Bruins may be challenging for the Eastern Conference lead, but not much comes easy for this team right now.

The B’s eventually beat the lowly Florida Panthers, the worst team in the NHL, by a score of 4-1 at the Garden last night, but it was far less comfortable than the final tally indicated.

After the B’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, the visitors cut the lead in half with a Shawn Matthias shorthanded goal early in the second and the B’s couldn’t regain control until midway though the third. Up until that point, the B’s were ham-handed with the puck, missing the simplest passes and coughing the puck up in the neutral zone.

It wasn’t until there was 7:17 left in the game that they could breathe a little easier. That’s when Shawn Thornton scored his second goal in three games. He fired a bad angle shot from the right wing that produced a big rebound. He hunted it down on the left side and scored into an open net past an out of position Scott Clemmensen. Patrice Bergeron, who had given the B’s a 2-0 lead late in the first period, finished the game off with an empty-netter.

As expected, it wasn’t exactly a celebratory locker room afterward.

“Obviously, we’re not playing our best hockey right now,” Bergeron said. “It was a big two points and I guess we’ll take it, but we have to be much better. We talked about it a bit after the second period and I thought we were better in the third. But obviously we’re not satisfied.”