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Top Line Notches Goal

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins

BOSTON – A goose egg will get you going.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith makes a save on a shot by Horton during the third period in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference final, Saturday, May 21, 2011 in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning won the game 5-3 to even the series at 2-2. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
After posting just a combined two shots on goal for zero points in Saturday afternoon’s Game 4 loss, Boston’s top line of Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and David Krejci came out to play in last night’s 3-1 Game 5 victory.

“Obviously, last game was disappointing, didn’t get much done,” said Lucic.

“Two shots between the three of us...is unacceptable,” he added.

The trio combined for the game-tying goal 4:24 into the second period. Horton, fresh from his second stint in the penalty box of the period, took a beauty of a pass from Lucic and buried the blast behind Bolts netminder Mike Smith.

The goal was a big one, as it put the Bruins back in the game and twisted the momentum in their favor.

“We got a little spark when that went in and we were back in it and were on the board,” Horton said.

“It was a great win by Krech there and Looch grabbed the puck and he took it. He didn’t go back to the point,” Horton added. “I just tried to get open and he gave me a pretty nice backhand pass.”

The Bruins were able to keep the momentum going their way throughout the rest of the game, despite going 0-4 on the man-advantage. Horton, Lucic and Krejci are all key power play guys. 

As the top line goes, the Bruins go. Lucic, Horton and Krejci have been a dynamic threesome for Boston all season. Set between the hulking forwards, Krejci became an assist machine and provides picture perfect setups for his large wingers. In return, Lucic and Horton use their physical presence to make room for Krejci and his playmaking abilities.

When the group is off, the Bruins don’t fare so well, as was evident in the 5-3, Game 4 loss.

“Tonight we score the first goal again for our team to get ourselves back in the game. And that’s what we need to do, we need to make an impact,” Lucic said.

Last night, the three skaters combined for four shots, and while they each finished the night with an even plus/minus (they were on the ice for Simon Gagne’s opening snipe 1:09 into the match-up), they were largely accountable for keeping the momentum with Boston.

The key for the top line is when they don’t score, they are doing other things well. Known for his fists as much as his stick skills, Lucic was able to combine his enforcer role with a 30-goal season. Consistency, he says, was the key.  Krejci can kill penalties and Horton’s aggressive style has gotten under the skin of more than one opponent.

“For some reason, I wish I had an answer for it, but it’s not there right now,” Lucic said of not having that consistency in the postseason.

“So I think obviously there is still room for improvement, but it was better because I didn’t hurt my team. But also I did at least something to help my team.”

Horton has also come into his first playoffs with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. The 25-year-old plays a physical game, and while the build up in PIMs may be collateral damage, it’s not for nothing.

“Obviously he took two penalties, but that’s okay. When he plays with an edge, it makes him a great player. And that’s the way I think we need to play,” Lucic said of Horton.

“We need to play with an edge and play with fire and go out there and just have some fun.”

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