– With the exception of a three-assist game against the Philadelphia Flyers 10 days ago, it has been a frustrating 15-game scoreless stretch for Milan Lucic
. Entering Monday night’s contest with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins’ power winger had not scored since February 24 in Florida.
After starting the night on one of Coach's new lines with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron, Lucic found his game more and more as the game went along. And at 9:49 of the second period, with the Leafs up 2-0, No. 17 finally broke the streak, cutting the Leafs lead in half with a vintage Lucic goal, in the B’s eventual, 3-2, shootout win.
The goal was all about power. After collecting a quick pass from Peverley, Lucic used his heavy frame to skate through the spoked-B at center ice and blow past Toronto defenseman Cody Franson at the Leafs’ blueline and bust to the net. Lucic, all alone, then fired a shot through the five-hole of goalie James Reimer for his fifth goal of the year.
“It was almost like I wasn’t even thinking,” said Lucic of his goal. “It was one of those things that when you’re scoring you’re not even really thinking about it, so my only thought was take the puck to the net and I was able to open him up."
“[Reimer] plays real well post-to-post and that’s why I decided to go in the five-hole there.”
When Lucic saw the puck in the back of the net, a huge sense of relief kicked in.
“Definitely relief,” he said after the win. “You start thinking positively again and like they say, the monkey’s off your back. It was definitely in my mind after the goal, I had a lot more positive thinking, so it was good to get it.”
B’s Head Coach Claude Julien said when Lucic is playing his best, the winger is moving his feet.
“Always has been,” said Julien, when asked if that was the key to Lucic’s game. “With Milan, it’s all about his feet. When his feet are moving and when he uses his speed, not just on the goal, but a couple other times there, he really took the puck to the outside and tried to cut back in.
“Either he’s going to get those chances or create some power plays for us by getting them to drag him down. But, he’s big, he’s strong, and when he uses his speed he’s certainly that much more of a player.
“Milan was very good after the first period, he got his feet going and it made a big difference.”
Lucic, who says he tried not to let his frustration spill out to the rest of the team during his slump, agreed that when he is moving, he’s a more effective player.
“You try to remain positive, but it was definitely coming to a point where it was hard to and you start second guessing yourself,” the winger explained. “So, usually it’s not a pretty one that goes in that gets you out of your slump, but I think you look at that goal there, I think a big thing was, I was moving my feet on the play and I was able to create a lot of speed.
“When I move my feet, I give myself a lot more opportunities.”
After just about a half a game apart, Lucic found himself reunited with his former linemates, David Krejci and Nathan Horton, during the third period, when the Bruins were attempting to tie the score, a result of No. 17 finding his legs.
With the B’s lines back together, creating energy and scoring chances, Brad Marchand was back skating with Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron, who eventually tied the game, with Dougie Hamilton showing some offensive skills and feeding him a pass from behind the goal.
After earning the two points, Lucic, even with a renewed confidence, was focusing more on his team's collective effort, talking about how the Bruins need play with that kind of desperation and step up their game even more down the stretch.
“It was good, it wasn’t too long that we were apart,” said Lucic, on how the B's fought through to find their game, and were able to get back to the instant chemistry with their usual lines. “Obviously, we were pressing to tie the game there, and it was a good job by Bergeron who got set-up by Dougie to get that goal.
“I think we’re a big part of this team and we need to definitely step up our game," he added on his line.
"There’s 17 games left starting on Wednesday and we want get our game to where it needs to be in order to have success in the playoffs.”