B's Kelly breaks through for first goal of season

B's Kelly breaks through for first goal of season
February 24, 2013, 10:15 pm
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SUNRISE, FL – Chris Kelly has a good sense of humor and is the ultimate team guy, so it was difficult to tell from the outside if going without a goal in the first 14 games of the season was gnawing at the third line center.

Thankfully Kelly and the Bruins don’t have to worry about it anymore as the two-way center potted his first goal of the season in Boston’s solid 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center.

“It’s always nice to score,” said Kelly. “That one was a long time coming, so hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come.”

It was a little bit luck and a little bit being the right guy in the right place at the right time. But sometimes that’s what it takes to climb out of a slump and finally get things moving offensively for a player that’s always been defense, penalty killing and face-offs before offense.

“We talked about that. [Kelly] is one of those guys that puts a lot of pressure on himself,” said Claude Julien. “To be able to get that monkey off his back is a positive. Though he hadn’t scored yet [leading up to Sunday] I felt like his game had really come along in the last few weeks.

“As you all know he’s on the penalty kill, but his skating and his timing is coming along. You’re starting to see him turn the corner in regard to his play.”

Kelly’s goal was actually a power play strike, which doubles his career output on the power play with the Bruins. Claude Julien had tossed the third line on the ice in the closing seconds of the man advantage to prepare for the shift following the power play in the second period, but they gave the Bruins coach the bonus plan.

“They scored with eight seconds left [on the power play],” said Julien. “His comment was ‘that was easy’ so I told him to tell the rest of the power play guys that.”

Chris Bourque dropped a pass to Daniel Paille as he cut into the offensive zone, and the stick of a Florida defender knocked the puck away from him just as he was winding up for a shot inside the blue line. The puck rolled over to Kelly cutting to the net, and he was able to flip into the vacant net before Florida goalie Jacob Markstrom could recover to the change of directions.

In a strange twist of the numbers, Kelly scored his first goal on his 20th shot on net of the season while Brad Marchand had nine goals scored on 20 shots coming into Sunday’s tilt against the Panthers.  

“Obviously you want to score, and it was the 15th game and I hadn’t scored,” said Kelly. “But I also try to focus on other things. When you’re not scoring you need to bring other things to the table, and I’ve been focused on that rather than things on the other side of the table.”

Kelly logged 6:07 of ice time on a penalty kill that helped kill off a four-minute Florida power play in the second and third period, and won 7-of-9 face-offs in over 15 minutes on the ice centering the third line. It sounds like he’s got the balance of opportunistic scoring and “bringing other things to the table” down to an exact science one month into the NHL season.