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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final

Bruins hope top line can build off latest effort

By Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

BOSTON -- Facing a do-or-die Game 7 on Friday night, the Bruins find some solace in the fact that their top line showed up in a big way in Game 6, scoring all the Boston goals in a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay.

Milan Lucic scored the first goal for Boston on Wednesday night, erasing another first-minute goal by the Lightning. Then David Krejci recorded a hat trick, the first Bruin to score three goals in a playoff game since Cam Neely did it in 1991.

Those are positive signs for a No. 1 line that has been an enigma throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs; especially for Lucic, who had just 2 goals in 16 playoff contests before Wednesday night.

"It's probably our best game as a line and we need to build off it," Lucic said. "We have to play the same way, but it wasn't enough (Wednesday night), so hopefully we can bring even more. Obviously, that is a positive we can take. You are never happy out there with what you did in a loss, but there are some things we can build off."

Throughout this postseason, different members of the line have clicked, but rarely at the same time.

Both of Lucic's goals came in the same game, the Game 4 elimination of Philadelphia last round. Krejci had just one goal in the first round series against Montreal and three points in the first five games against Tampa Bay. Nathan Horton has been the most consistent of the trio, never going more than two games between goals.

But Wednesday, at the St. Pete Times Forum, all three players were going at the same time. Lucic, as mentioned, had Boston's first goal and added an assist. Nathan Horton had two assists. Krejci, meanwhile, had the three goals, an effort that was dampened considerably by the fact that Boston lost a game that could have booked passage to the Stanley Cup Final.

"It was good to see him step up and have a good game," Lucic said of Krejci. "It (stinks) that we can't celebrate a great individual performance like that. It will be great if he can do the same thing the next game."

So, what was the key to all three players going in the same game --and how can they repeat it?
Everybody involved had their own opinion on the matter,  but universally the responses revolved around effort in some shape or form.

"I think we were shooting the puck a lot," Krejci said. "We were going to the crease and we really wanted it."

Lucic thought it had more to do with skating.

"I think we were moving our feet, supporting each other and going to the net," Lucic said.

Boston coach Claude Julien said it also involved skating, but primarily the fact that Lucic was moving his feet throughout the game.

Lucic has been hesitant to go hard on the forecheck since getting into penalty trouble against Montreal. An apparent foot injury, suffered when he was struck by a Tyler Seguin shot during practice early in this series, also didn't help.

"He was skating; it's as simple as that," Julien said after Game 6. "When he skates and comes at you hard, certainly puts everybody on their heels. I thought he was skating well (Wednesday) and created the stage for himself and also created some turnovers for the hockey club -- and that was a big difference maker as far as that line was concerned. It made a whole lot of difference."

And Julien would like to see it continue. He knows a winner-take-all Game 7 becomes a much more palatable proposition when his big guns are feeling it.

"That's certainly something that you can build on heading home, that if those guys played like that again, you like our chances," Julien said.

But can the Bruins' top line -- inconsistent all postseason -- string together back-to-back dominant performances?

Krejci certainly thinks it is a possibility.

"You dream about it as a little kid to be in the Final and have a chance to raise the Cup," Krejci said. "We were close (Wednesday) and you don't want to blow it away. There's still one chance, and I believe if we play the way we finished the game, we'll be sitting pretty good."

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery