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Bruins, Lucic accept suspension, move on

by Shawn P. Roarke
MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins may not be happy about the one-game suspension levied against Milan Lucic, but they have accepted it.

"They've handed out the decision and we respect it and we'll abide by it," Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli said

Lucic will miss Monday night's Game 3 against the Montreal Canadiens here at the Bell Centre (7 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS) after being suspended by the League on Sunday for the match penalty he incurred in the waning moments of Game 2. Lucic struck Montreal forward Maxim Lapierre in the head with his stick.

"Right now, it's not important what I think," Boston coach Claude Julien said after Monday's morning skate. "We have a game to prepare for and we have to do it without him. Once the decision is rendered, you have to accept it and move on. That's what we are going to do."

Lucic also said he accepted the decision, which was rendered by Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior vice president and director of hockey operations.

"He made a decision that he felt was right and I respect his decision," said Lucic.

Rugged rookie forward Byron Bitz will replace Lucic in the lineup, playing on the fourth line. Blake Wheeler, who played on the fourth line in the first two games, moves back up to the second line, playing the left wing on a line with David Krejci and Michael Ryder.

The suspension is the latest incident in an eventful series so far for Lucic. A physical forward that has irritated Montreal throughout the regular season, Lucic was a target of some inflammatory pre-series comments from Montreal tough guy Georges Laraque. Then, before Game 1, those same two players repeatedly exchanged pleasantries during the pre-game skate.

And throughout the first two games, Lucic has been trying to put his physical stamp on the series. He has a series-high eight hits and also leads all players in the series with 24 penalty minutes.

But he crossed the line by striking Lapierre with his stick late in the third period of a game Boston was winning 5-1, earning the match penalty that turned into a one-game suspension after Sunday afternoon's disciplinary hearing with Campbell.

Now, he has to pay the price by sitting out a pivotal Game 3, a game in which Boston could put a stranglehold on the best-of-7 series with a victory.

"I guess you could say I'm a little disappointed in myself because I think our team has done a good job of being disciplined this whole series, so a little disappointed that way," Lucic said. "You always want to be out there doing what you can to help your team win."

Chiarelli says that Lucic has been spoken to about his transgression and Chiarelli believes that Lucic has learned his lesson.

"He's got to be more careful with his stick and we talked about composure," Chiarelli said. "He was very disappointed in himself and knows our coaching staff has been preaching discipline and that is something we expect him to carry forward for the rest of the series."
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