BOSTON -- Both Claude Julien and Zdeno Chara called their fourth line their best line, following Friday night's 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.
And in the first two periods, Shawn Thornton, Greg Campbell, and Daniel Paille helped provide the first two Bruins goals.
Thornton and Campbell scored the goals, and Paille assisted on the first, getting a piece of a Dougie Hamilton shot from the point that was initially saved, but then followed up by Thornton for a rebound goal.
The Bruins' fourth line helped keep the game tied through the first two periods, for sure. But the game-winner was a product of the Bruins' top line. And while Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton may not have been the team's best trio for the first 40 minutes on Friday night, they've been providing plenty of big goals in the early stages of the lockout-shortened season.
Add Zdeno Chara's wrister from the top of the left circle to the list. Because not only was the captain's third-period snipe the game-winner, but it was set up by Krejci, Horton, and Lucic.
"We had some good traffic, and Looch made a really nice play," said Chara after the win. "So, it worked out really well."
Krejci took the puck over the blue line along the right boards, and dumped it in deep, where Horton picked it up in the right corner. As Horton turned with the puck back towards the right half-wall, he softly cycled it back behind the net to Lucic.
As Lucic took the pass behind the net while facing the glass, he faked Marty Reasoner left, and came back to his right, where he stepped out to the circle, turned and sent a pass through the slot to Chara above the left circle.
Afterwards, Lucic applauded Chara's effort to step up into open space, given the overloading defense that New York was playing.
"I'm looking for that guy right there, and Chara did a great job getting open," said Lucic. "If you can see, he seeped down to the top of the circles there, because a lot of teams now, when they overload in the defensive zone, they take away that strong-side D-man. So he did a great job getting open for me there, where I could make that pass.
"As much as it is a pass from me, it's him getting open and him giving me that outlet. And he did a great job of that."
That is true. But as much as it's Chara getting open, it's also Lucic -- and the rest of the Bruins' top forward line -- having the ability to step up in a big spot, and make a big play.
Lucic' pass can be considered a big play, at a big moment. It seems as if all three of his points (two goals and an assist) this season have been important.
Overall, the first line has been an important part of Boston's early-season success, even if most in the room are praising the fourth line for keeping them in the game on Friday.
It should also be noted that on Campbell's goal -- Boston's second of the game that tied it at 2-2 -- Krejci recorded the assist. His attempt to throw it on net was blocked by Islanders defenseman Joe Finley, and Campbell knocked in the loose puck.
That marked Krejci's third assist of the season. He didn't receive an assist on Chara's goal -- the game-winner that his line set up. But Krejci's screen out front of Rick DiPietro certainly played a factor.
"Krejci did a good job by just getting the puck in the zone, and then Horton did a good job creating that cycle," said Lucic. "And Chara did a great job finding that soft area where he could get open. Another goal tonight with a guy right in front of the net to create the screen. It was a good one to get us going in the third."
It got them going in the third, and it finished the Islanders off. Credit on this night will go to the fourth line.
But the game-winner also shows another solid showing from Claude Julien's top-three forwards.