BOSTON -- Claude Julien made light of the notion prior to Thursday nights game that Chris Kelly was a top-line center in the latest combination of forwards for the Black and Gold.
But Kelly donned a white jersey in practice, denoting the Bs top line between Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin, and his production was that of a top-line player in Bostons 6-2 victory over the Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
Kelly scored Bostons eventual game-winning goal in the first period when he made three different extra-effort moves to push the puck past Jonas Gustavsson, finishing off a beautiful play set up by the hustle and hockey mind of Milan Lucic. Kelly finished with a pair of points and a plus-2 in 12:27 of ice time in Bostons new offensive system of three equal scoring lines atop the forward group. He also helped push forward three-point performances from Lucic and Seguin as they accounted for a combined seven shots, and looked like a formidable duo paired with the defensively responsible Kelly.
The bottom line was that the Bruins nearly doubled their seasonal goal output in one solid victory over the Maple Leafs, and squeezed off a season-high 43 shots on net against a shell-shocked Toronto defense.
Its about doing the right thing for the team. When it works, its great, said Julien. Had it not worked, I would have been back at the board tonight and trying to figure something else out.
We got a lot of good things out of a lot of players, and I think it was nice to see. It was refreshing, and sometimes thats what youve got to do. Youve got to mix things up a little bit and give them a little bit of a sting, and usually that sting is a positive sting.
There is little doubt the positive sting spurred plenty of the players, and coaxed the seasons first goals from Patrice Bergeron and Lucic among the barrage of shots, goals and scoring chances against the overmatched Gustavsson.
The news was just as good for the other" No. 1 line as Patrice Bergeron led all players with nine shots on net, and teamed up with Nathan Horton to bring a small helping of points to the yellow practice jersey line.
The Bruins defensemen did plenty of offensive damage on the power play, as well, but it was all about the newfangled line configurations brought together by the Bs coaching staff this week. Enough was enough as the Bs offense sat last in the NHL with 1.69 goals per game in the first six contests, and the Black and Gold finally released the hounds against a Northeast Division rival.
Obviously it's a message that's sent that we need to be better and to find ways to create some offense, said Bergeron, who played like a center possessed. We got the message and we have to keep going now.
The new line combinations cwont last forever and its difficult to see Seguin and Lucic skating with Kelly all season, but Julien and his players hit all the right notes at exactly the correct time for a much-needed two points early in a hockey season thats just barely underway.