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Paille showing he can provide offense when needed

by Matt Kalman /

BOSTON -- If the Boston Bruins go on to win their second championship in three years, there's no doubt how Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final will be remembered.

It'll be called the "Yippee Paille" game.

Unheralded Bruins forward Daniel Paille scored the game-winning goal with 13:48 elapsed in overtime Saturday in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. He earlier had set up Chris Kelly's game-tying goal in the second period with a wraparound shot that deflected off Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford to Kelly in the slot for a tap-in.

In his previous 63 NHL postseason games, Paille had never scored in overtime. So he was still relishing the occasion long after the Bruins evened the series and traveled back to Boston, where they will host Game 3 on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"Obviously, personally, it feels great to score the overtime goal," he said Sunday on the team's off day at TD Garden. "And I think we're a bit relieved that after that slow start we were able to accomplish a split and coming back here for a good series.

"After a win, I'm always excited," Paille continued when asked about resting postgame. "So it was just a bonus that I happened to score it. Of course, I was just trying to replay it over and over and watch it a little bit, and I just got excited. Now I got to reflect on it and now I'm ready to move on and play a better Game 3 [Monday]."

Heading into Game 3, it looks like Paille might've finally found a couple new linemates. Ever since Gregory Campbell was knocked out of the playoffs with a broken leg in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, Bruins coach Claude Julien has struggled to find the right mix for his bottom six. Campbell had combined with Paille and Shawn Thornton on one of the best fourth lines in the entire League the past several seasons.

The Bruins started Game 2 with Paille, Kelly and Shawn Thornton on one line and Tyler Seguin on a line with Rich Peverley and Kaspars Daugavins. After his team was outshot by Chicago, 19-4, in the first period, Julien switched Thornton and Seguin to create a line of speedsters in Paille, Kelly and Seguin.

The move paid off handsomely.

"I think it was mostly about, you know, about finding a spark somewhere," Julien said. "It was a 1-0 game. We just didn't seem to generate much offense. With Gregory Campbell out, our fourth line kind of lost its identity, the so-called Merlot Line. I'm trying to find something here that will give us some spark. Those three guys together seemed to blend in well. Thankful for that. They scored both goals to help us win the hockey game."

Paille said he thought the speed of his new line was able to create more turnovers by pressuring Chicago's puck carriers. It was also important for Paille not to change his approach to the game despite playing on a line with a player who scored 20 goals last season (Kelly) and a guy who scored 16 goals in the shortened 2013 season (Seguin).

"When line changes are made, for us as players, you try not to do too much," Paille said. "You want to just stay with what you're capable of doing. Thankfully we were able to accomplish that [Saturday] night."

A 2002 first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, Paille was once a prolific scorer. He averaged 29 goals a year for Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League, and then made a splash in his first full NHL season with the Sabres, as he scored 19 goals. After that season, the Sabres decided to cast him in a checking role. The Bruins mostly have kept Paille in that mode.

But during the Bruins' run to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship, Paille came through with more than just grit and energy. In 25 playoff games, he scored three goals after he lit the lamp six times in the regular season.

If 2011-12 was a down year for Paille, who scored nine goals in 69 games, then the 2013 season was a major bounce-back campaign. This season, he produced at closer to his 2007-08 pace with 10 goals in 46 games. In addition to continuing as a major part of Boston's solid penalty kill, Paille played up and down the lineup to make up for injuries and thrived with several combinations.

He's barely slowed down in the postseason. Two of his three goals have been game-winners, which equals his total for the past 246 regular-season games. Even with all his success, Paille isn't changing his mentality.

"I think I don't necessarily consider myself a scorer," Paille said. "I'm just trying to do the best I can and get the scoring opportunities that I usually create, like [Saturday] night. It's just nice that they can go in."

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