BOSTON -- The Bs fourth line made no secrets about the fact they knew they could be better.
Daniel Paille had the only point among the three forwards through a combined 30 games played between himself, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell ina lackingmonth of October. Thornton had scrapped in two of the last three games heading into Tuesday night against the Senators, and both he and Campbell dropped the gloves for the necessary emotional component provided by the energy line. In fact Thornton dropped 'em with former teammate Zenon Konopka on Tuesday night after fighting with former teammates Jim Vandermeer and Travis Moen in the last handful of games.
But above and beyond the friendly hockey fights, theevening was complete for the fourth line when all three forwards teamedto set up a third periodinsurance goal that helped form the final score in Bostons 5-3 victory over the Sens.There's a reason why the Bruins went 17-6-4 when Thornton, Paille or Campbell lit the lamp last season.
I think their line was more of what we know them to be, said coach Claude Julien. I thought they did a great job of starting the game for us in Montreal the other night got the puck in, and hemmed them in, and gave us some energy and against the Senators it was the same thing. We got a good first shift from that line.
They set the tempo of the games a lot of times. Theyre very good at that. I thought they played a lot better tonight and it was more of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and keeping them hemmed in. They seemed to read off each other better, and didnt get caught with outnumbered situations. Lately theyve been caught low, the three of them together. It was a good outing from that line rewarded with a goal from Paille.
The play was a reward for all three players getting some production for all their toil over the last few games. Campbell took the hit to scrape the puck off the wall, and Thornton tossed a perfectly placed lead pass to the speedy Paille. It might go down as one of the better looks Thornton has coaxed out of his hands in a respectable NHL career. The fourth line left wing dashed in behind the Ottawa defense and managed to flip the puck through Craig Andersons leg pads for Paille's second goal of the seasonjust 37 seconds after Johnny Boychuk had rifled home the game-winning goal.
It was pretty funny considering that Thornton had hosted Campbell at his house in Charlestown for a Halloween barbeque to talk about improving things within the team and more specifically their line.
We put pressure on ourselves obviously. We are older guys and we definitely want to be better, Thornton said. I actually had Soupy over last night to try and break the jinx. We thought about it and we obviously want to be able to contribute.
It was revealing on several levels for the fourth line and for the Bruins given Juliens choices throughout the game. The Bs coach started the energy playersat opening puck drop to give Boston the necessary momentum off the hop, and Julienthen went with the fourth line again in the shifts immediately following the third and fourth goals of the game.
Thats about as blatant a show of trust and responsibility as one will ever see the Bs coach make during a must-win game, and it was much to the chagrin of the card-carrying fourth line haters of the world. The fourth line paid back his faith by performing at each turn. Its no coincidence that the line's successful showing and a victorious effort were both connected, and the Bruins snapped their three-game losing streak because of it.
It isnt always about the points or production for the Bs fourth line, but the energy group setting the tone usually portends good things ahead for a Bruins team in need. That was never more apparent than Boston's team win over the Senators at their time of desperation.