After throwing a glass-shattering hit on Thursday, on Saturday he had a career-high four points in a game. He also scored the game-winning goal in the 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers. And – oh, right – there was that hat trick, also a career-high for goals in a game.
“It’s always nice when you can contribute with a few goals,” said Lucic. “It was good to have the comeback we had…and I’m happy I could contribute.”
Lucic not only contributed, each goal he scored came at a crucial moment for the team.
“He won us a hockey game tonight just with the way he played and the kind of identity we talk about: grinding it out, out-working, out-muscling,” said head coach Claude Julien.
His first goal, at 5:57 of the first period, tied the game at two, and his second goal, at 5:08 of the third – a tip off a Dennis Wideman slapshot – gave the Bruins a 4-3 lead.
“I’d say (tipping) is harder” than a regular shot said Lucic. “Dennis made the shot, a slot pass right on my tape. Good thing it went right under the bar.”
There was still one goal left in him, though. After the Thrashers tied the contest for the final time, Lucic scored his third goal with just 1:41 remaining in the game.
|Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic, second from left, celebrates his third period goal with teammates Philip Kessel (81), Dennis Wideman (6) and Andrew Ference, right, as Atlanta Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg, of Sweden, skates away during an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008, in Boston. The Bruins won 5-4. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) |
He may have been cool and relaxed in the locker room after the game, but the young forward's on-ice hat trick celebration was just the opposite.
He gave a simple "low five" to Marc Savard
after the puck hit the net, but he was truly grinning as he stood by the B’s bench, waiting for the ice to be cleared of many a hat, the crowd serenading him with long chants of “Looooooooooooch!”
“You’ve got to thank the fans for acknowledging it,” said Julien, who was happy about the break in the action for clean-up for a different reason.
“It probably gave us a break that we needed for the last minute-forty,” he said.
The last Bruins hat trick was a little over a year ago, when Phil Kessel scored three goals against the Los Angeles Kings. Lucic admitted that tonight's success came as a result of simply being in front of the net, something that Coach Julien has stressed to the team.
“It’s pretty tough to have those pretty plays around the net nowadays,” said Julien, so creating traffic in front of the net is crucial. “Lucic got rewarded for that tonight, for wanting to do that and paying the price and standing there.”
Luch also admitted that a small equipment change – he’s now wearing contacts while on the ice – may have helped. He’s worn glasses for three years, he said, but the rest of the team kept nagging him about his squinting, so he made the change before Thursday’s game against Toronto.
“It’s like going from an old TV to a high-definition TV,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to see the puck out there when your vision is clear.”
|Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic celebrates his third goal of the game in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Atlanta Thrashers, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008, in Boston. The Bruins won 5-4. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) |
His teammates definitely weren’t bugging him now. Praise for the young forward’s efforts came from all corners of the locker room.
“It was well-deserved,” said Marc Savard
simply, adding that Bruins Vice President Cam Neely, who has become something of a mentor to Lucic because of their similar hard-hitting styles of play, would be proud.
“He’s a good guy, and he can use his size,” said David Krejci
, “so that’s good for him and good for us.”
But it’s not as if his teammates were surprised. They all know the skill Lucic has, said Shawn Thornton
“He’s a big human for his age, he plays hard every night,” Thornton said. “He’s got pretty decent mitts for a big kid, too.”
Lucic, however, was more focused on the big picture – the game was the Bruins first win at home, right before they’re headed to the West Coast for a week-long road trip.
“We wanted to win in front of the home crowd, and we also want, for our sake, to make this building a hard building to play in,” he said. “We do play here 41 times a year.
“If we have a good road trip here, we can build a lot of momentum going into November.”