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Lucic working to turn season around in playoffs

by John McGourty
BOSTON -- This wasn't the third career NHL season that Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic wanted to have, but it's turning into a postseason that he might have only dreamed possible.

Lucic scored the winning goal in Game 2 with 2:57 remaining in regulation to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory and send them to Philadelphia with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

"It was a real nice goal and hopefully a confidence boost for him," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He hadn't scored in a while. I think the way it was scored was typical Lucic. I thought he did a great job on that whole shift and it was nice to see him score that goal."

Lucic had eight goals and 27 points as a rookie in 2007-08 and then jumped to 17 goals and 42 points in his second season. But an ankle injury and a broken finger cost him 32 games and he produced only nine goals and 20 points while going minus-7 in 50 games. He hadn't scored in eight games prior to Monday.

Lucic has been playing well on a line with the suddenly resurgent Miroslav Satan and intelligent, skilled center David Krejci. Through seven playoff games, none of Lucic's 12 shots had gone in, but he had three assists and the praise and support of his teammates.

"He hasn't scored that much this year, but he's played the last few games very well," Krejci said. "I'm really happy for him. He's been a big part of our offense the last few games so it was good to see him get his first one. Hopefully, he gets going."

On the Game 2 winning goal, Lucic displayed his whole package of skills to make a huge difference. He started the play by racing Flyers defenseman Ryan Parent to the end boards to goalie Brian Boucher's left. Lucic put a big hit on Parent and Satan pinched and got the puck back to Krejci behind the goal line on Boucher's left. Krejci's pass to Lucic in the right faceoff circle was tipped in the air by Flyers defenseman Lukas Krajicek.

Lucic turned his back to the puck, blocking out Parent, and followed it over his shoulder and onto the ice. He wheeled and fired a shot between Boucher's right pad and blocker for the game-winner. 

"My whole thought process was just get it on net," Lucic said. "That was just a turn and shoot, get it on net. Luckily, it found a hole.

"… To score a game-winner in the playoffs is definitely a great feeling, and hopefully we can take advantage of that."

"I didn't pick it up right away and (it was) above my pad and below my blocker there," Boucher said. "It was a tough spot for me to get it, but I wish I would have picked it up a little sooner."

"He won another battle and Miro pinched really well and I tried to exchange with Lucic," Krejci said. "I tried to get it through the first guy and the goalie didn't see the play really well and it ended up in the net. I'm really happy for him."

Krejci and Satan are highly-skilled players and they appreciate the hard work and banging Lucic provides. Krejci defined how Lucic adds to the chemistry.

"It makes it a little easier in the corners and in the offensive zone. He can win the puck," Krejci said. "If he goes in with the defenseman, he's going to come out on top and try to support me and give me the puck. That's what I like and he knows what he should do. Then, he gets open. He brought a little more energy and toughness and gave me and Miro room to play."

"For most of the night, we made good plays in the zone and were able to see each other and exchange pucks and switch spots quickly," Satan said. "This created problems for them and this was one of the situations where we were able to score."

Lucic said he might not have been able to score that goal for a long time after his January ankle injury.

"A turn like that puts a lot of torque on the ankle and it hasn’t been fun playing with that when I first came back, but it has gotten a lot stronger now and I am not thinking about it anymore," he said.

"He's gone through a couple of major injuries that have really slowed his progression and his season," Julien said. "It's been a little bit of a struggle to find his groove. You just hope the way he played that shift tonight helped him gain some confidence. That's what this game is all about: If you're confident upstairs, you can do a lot more things. He hadn't scored in a while and to score that goal, the winning goal, hopefully brings back the Milan we all want to see, game in and game out."

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