NEW YORK -- On a team known for its remarkable consistency, the Boston Bruins benefited in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New York Rangers from a trio not known for filling the net.
In a 2-1 win Tuesday, Boston's fourth line of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille accounted for both goals in an unexpected show of offensive flair. Thornton's two assists in the game doubled his career point total accumulated over 76 previous Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Even if offensive outbursts like the one they had in Game 3 aren't an every-game occurrence, the Bruins' fourth line has been known to set the tone for the rest of their team, thanks mostly to their contagious energy and physicality.
"When those guys come up large for us, it really ignites our dressing room. Guys are really happy for them," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "In a team sport, sometimes you have players that have more attention than others. These guys don't get the attention they probably deserve on a lot of occasions. So when they get that opportunity, everyone kind of rallies around them."
They might not always register on the score sheet, but Boston's fourth line does demonstrate the chemistry that has become a Bruins staple. Thanks in large part to Julien's refusal to mix up his forward lines too often, the Bruins have shown on-ice communication that the Rangers have had trouble combating.
"We know where each other is going to be. We can anticipate it more than other people, maybe, because we've been together so long," Thornton said. "It helps that [Paille] is one of the fastest guys on our team. We can just shoot pucks in areas and nine times out of 10, he'll get there at the very least at the same time."
Paille's game-winning goal in Game 3 was the signature play in a contest that Boston slowly started taking over after New York took a 1-0 lead. And with one more win needed to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, that fourth line would like nothing more than another chance to score a big goal.
Game 4 is Thursday at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, RDS, TSN).
"Hopefully it keeps going. I'm hoping we can continue to contribute," Thornton said. "I've said it a million times, I'm very fortunate to play with those two guys. They're extremely good hockey players, and they'd probably play on better lines than the fourth line on a lot of other teams. I'm very lucky to be able to go along for the ride."
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