Bruins 'Merlot Line' powers offense in win

Bruins 'Merlot Line' powers offense in win
March 12, 2013, 1:45 am
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KANATA, ON – Shawn Thornton had a wonderfully highbrow vision in his head if Gregory Campbell potted the game-winning goal in the final minute of overtime on a backhanded shovel at the net.

If it was successful the Campbell bid would have given all three members of the Bruins’ fourth line their own separate goals in a come-from-behind win over the Ottawa Senators, and would have allowed Thornton a special request: “Merlot for everyone.”

The B’s fourth line, of course, call themselves the “Merlot Line” because of the cranberry Bruins jerseys they don in practice, and perhaps it would have forced everybody on the Bruins charter to raise a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon on the flight to Pittsburgh.

Alas Robin Lehner made a nice stop on Campbell’s bid just as Tuukka Rask did on Daniel Alfredsson at the left post just as time was expiring in the overtime session. So it was left for the shootout and David Krejci eventually iced it by roofing a shot to give the Bruins a 3-2 shootout win over the Sens at Scotiabank Place.

The fourth line still powered both goals during regulation, and continued a string of strong performances since they were put back together as a forward group three games ago.

That’s the kind of secondary scoring that everyone has been looking for over the last few months, and the fourth has clearly started answering that call.

“I try not to put too much stock into how many points our line gets, but as a group I think we’ve been better in the last five or six games,” said Thornton, who packed three shots, two hits and a plus-2 rating into his 9:25 of ice time in the victory. “Maybe we’ve been rewarded the last couple of games, but our pressure, our forecheck and our D-zone coverage has been going back to what it once was.

“That’s a positive development. I wouldn’t say that we’re confident or anything like that, but I’d say we’re headed in the right direction.”

Down 2-0 after the first eight minutes of the first period, things looked pretty bleak for the Black and Gold in Ottawa. But Thornton reversed the flow of momentum back toward the Bruins and it in a non-traditional way for him. Rather than dropping his gloves to change the game’s flow Thornton floated a wobbling knuckle puck toward the net that somehow squirted through Lehner’s pads to make it a one goal game.

“They do things a simple way: they throw pucks at the net and they crash from every spot,” said Claude Julien. “[Thornton’s goal] was huge. We talked about it at the end of the period. It was something that I thought was a big turning point in the game, and gave us the momentum going into the second period.”

That allowed the Bruins to chip away at the lead and tie the game up midway through the second period when Paille broke in behind the Senators defense after jumping over the boards for a line change. David Krejci executed a tape-to-tape stretch pass to a speeding Paille, and the fourth line winger snapped a wrist shot from the slot as the game-tying marker.

“It was kind of a broken play in our zone. We got the rebound and Krejci saw me coming off the bench, and as soon as he saw me I sort of stayed where I was,” said Paille. “I was able to just make a play there.

“Our effort has been there all year and it seems like we’re getting rewarded now. It certainly makes it easier to play when things are going well and confidence is building like we can again. [Thornton] played amazing and I think our whole line did.”

Interestingly enough Paille now has goals in each of his last two games for the first time since the 2010-11 season when he potted goals in consecutive games against the Flyers and Senators – the same two teams that he scored against this season as well.

Now the B’s fourth line – as well as the rest of the Black and Gold hockey club – hopes the balance of the season goes the exact same way as it did two years ago.