RALEIGH, NC – It wasn’t a perfect game for Bruins left winger Milan Lucic.
Far from it actually, but Lucic did have something to build on after scoring a goal in the Bruins 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Lucic was right where he needed to be to find some offense in the first period when he engaged in battle with Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk in front of the net. So when Matt Bartkowski’s shot arrived from the left point it bounced off Lucic’s skate blade holder and ricocheted into the net for his sixth goal of the season.
The score snapped a nine game goal-scoring drought for the Bruins power forward, and helped some of his game return to form. There were still too many blind passes and careless turnovers from a player that should be making strong, simple plays, and that seemed pretty evident with the team-high four turnovers from No. 17 during his 18:13 of ice time.
None of that was power play time as it appears Lucic has been taken off both of those units for the time being.
“He still has to be better. We all know he can be a better player and he can’t just be satisfied with a goal,” said Claude Julien. “He can’t be satisfied with his game. He needs to push himself. There are a lot of guys right now that can be better, and they have to push themselves. We’re going to have to push them.”
But there was also plenty for Lucic to build on with seven games remaining in the regular season, and a chance to wipe away this year’s disappoint if he can catch fire during the playoffs. The Bruins power forward was the first to acknowledge that this season hasn’t been Lucic at his best, but there is still time left for him to chance his fate with the postseason coming up.
“For me with the way that the year has gone it was nice to get a fortunate bounce,” said Lucic. “So let’s hope that we can move past what’s happened in the past during this season, and move in the right direction. Hopefully I can get my game going here with seven games left and then into the playoffs.
“There haven’t been too many bounces for me like this where I had something I could build off of. Usually it’s a goal like that can get things jump started again, and in the second and third [period] I thought we did a great job of creating scoring opportunities.”
The Bruins are going to been a fully operational Lucic if they’re hoping to taste success in the playoffs, and they need him to continue honing back in on the strong, simple, confident game that’s made him a fearsome force in the NHL. Getting on the scoresheet was a good start for Lucic, but there’s still plenty of work to be done over the next two weeks of playoff preparation.