Perhaps it was little more than coincidence David Krejci went scoreless in the five games after Brandon Dubinsky slammed his head into the boards at the end of a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
But whatever was dogging the center’s game officially dissipated when he snapped home the game-winning overtime goal in Boston’s 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon. He used his soft hands to accept a marvelous drop pass from Jarome Iginla, and then used his patience and hockey IQ to wait for his shot while Cam Ward flopped in the crease.
The playmaking center seemed to wait an eternity and then some while the game hung in the balance. His own linemates were driven crazy with suspense while knowing Krejci loves those moments when the game is won or lost on the end of his stick.
“It felt good as a team to win in overtime. They always feel good to be a part of,” said Iginla. “It was a nice move with Krejci in front showing the patience. He put on a great move, and then I was like ‘Put it in…put it in!’ He obviously made the right call, and it was great patience in a tight spot there.”
It was pure, unadulterated Krejci at his best.
“Sometimes that patience pays off and it paid off on that winning goal, no doubt. He didn’t panic with it and sometimes you wish that he’d have less patience and make things happen a little quicker. But he slows the game down to his pace a lot of times,” said Claude Julien. “When he’s on top of his game, it really throws the other team off.
“I thought he made the right play there on that winning goal; it was really good. Took the time to handle the puck well and by the time the goalie was out of position, he knew exactly where he wanted to put it.”
Putting it in the exact right place snapped his five point pointless stretch, and capped off an encouraging game for a player in Krejci that had been getting abused pretty handily around the net and the face-off circle over the last 10 days.
Krejci finished with a team-high five shots on net, won 9-of-14 face-offs and packed in some quality play in 19:07 of ice time before his OT change of pace won the game.
That's a far cry from the player that managed just seven total shots on net in his previous five games.
“That’s my game. I get credit for that, but I also get some negative feedback,” said Krejci. “When it works, everybody is happy and no one is talking bad about my game. So I’m glad it worked, but that’s what I do. I’m not going to change my game.
“It just happened that I was there and the puck found me. I kind of had a sense that the goalie was going to slide over because he didn’t know what I was going to do. So I kind of held onto it a little extra second, and after that it looked like the net was almost all empty…so it was kind of easy for me to put it in.”
On an individual level, the goal also kept him neck-and-neck with Milan Lucic for the team lead in points (17), where Boston’s top dogs rank 55th and beyond among the league’s top offensive players. So everyone expects that players like Krejci will endure some cold spells during the season, but will also shine when the clutch situation calls for it.