– For the better part of a month, the Bruins have been experiencing struggles scoring goals. Despite getting chances, the B’s had trouble converting and burying their opportunities again on Saturday night against Carolina, and fell to the Hurricanes, 4-2, in Raleigh.
One bright spot in the game was Milan Lucic’s first period goal that opened the scoring. The goal was Lucic’s sixth of the season and first since March 25 against Toronto, a span of 10 games.
The goal was a perfect example of what the B’s need more of: getting dirty goals by working hard and getting to the front of the net.
Jaromir Jagr and Gregory Campbell did a tremendous job of forechecking in the corner prior to Lucic’s goal, with Jagr eventually winning the battle for the puck. Jagr then found a seam and delivered a pass through the slot to Matt Bartkowski at the left point.
Bartkowski whipped a wrist shot towards the net, and with Lucic parked out front, the puck tipped off his skate and past ‘Canes goalie Justin Peters.
The goal was originally credited to Lucic, then changed to Bartkowski’s (which would have been his first career NHL goal), and eventually given back to Lucic.
“Jags did a good job of turning the puck over on the forecheck there [and] Bart did a great job of getting the puck to the net,” said Lucic after the loss. “For me, with the way that the year's kind of gone, it's kind of nice to get a fortunate bounce. Let's hope, once again, we can move past what's happened so far this season and move things in the right direction.
“Hopefully, I can get my game going with seven games left heading into the playoffs.”
Campbell said that the type of goal Lucic scored is exactly what the Bruins need more of going forward.
“It was a good forecheck, we were able to retrieve the puck and Jags is so good at protecting it and finding guys,” explained Campbell. “We noticed that the weak-side defenseman had been open, [as] part of our pre-scout. [Jagr] was able to find Bart, and Looch is really good in front of the net.
“That's where we need to score more goals: in front of the net.”
With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, Lucic is hoping to push himself to score more and use his tally to get on a bit of an offensive roll.
“Hopefully this is something that I can build off,” he said. “Like I said, also, there hasn't been too many bounces where I can have something like that to hopefully build my confidence off of. So, you look at a lot of times, usually it's a goal like that that gets things started again.”
B’s Head Coach Claude Julien was encouraged by Lucic’s performance against the ‘Canes, but said there is still a higher gear for the big winger.
“Yeah, he still has to be better,” said Julien. “We know he's a better player, so he can't be satisfied with a goal, he can't be satisfied with his game right now. We've got to push ourselves and he's not the only one.
“We've got a lot of guys right now that still have the ability to be better and they've got to push themselves. And we're going to keep pushing them.”
Lucic thinks the Black & Gold, as a whole, can also build off of tonight.
“Especially in the second and third, I thought we did a great job in the offensive zone creating opportunities,” Lucic said. “ If you look at it, it was a really good job in the offensive zone, being hard on pucks and creating scoring chances, taking pucks to the net.
“It's one of those things like we've talked about too many times this year; when you get those chances you've got to bear down on them and hopefully it goes in for you. Just didn't get those bounces that we had last time against them [in a 6-2 win on Monday in Boston].
“Hopefully we can build off of that and keep getting better as the season winds down here.”