By Joe Haggerty
TAMPA Recording a hat trick in the Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs would be a career highlight for some, and a dream come true for most.
But Bruins center David Krejci didnt have the look of a man who'd accomplished either of those things Wednesday night. His three goals were in a losing effort as the Bruins dropped Game 6 to the Lightning, 5-4.
So instead, the 25-year-old playmaker had the look of a man who knew he and his teammates hadn't quite grasped an opportunity to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
I think we were going to the net hard tonight and we really wanted it, said Krejci. Its really frustrating when you dream about it as a little kid to get into the Finals and have a chance to win the Cup. We were really close today, but it wasnt enough.
"But theres still one more chance.
Krejci's first goal was a sweet little wrist shot over Dwayne Rolosons glove hand from a nice spin-o-rama Daniel Paille feed during a line change.
The second and third were more redirects and dirty work in front of the net, with Horton and Lucic feeding pucks toward Krejci and Krejci turning scorer instead of playmaker for a change.
Its always nice to score goals, but in the playoffs it doesnt really matter. You want to do well, but a loss is a loss, said Krejci. A win is a win. I just need to forget about it, and its a new game in Game 7 starting 0-0. Just go get it, you know?
Krejcis three goals give him a team-leading 10 in Bostons 17 postseason games, and sole possession of the team scoring lead in the playoffs. It was readily apparent Krejci was one of the best players on the ice from beginning to end, and he finished first among Bs forwards with 23:59 of ice time (behind only Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in total time on ice).
Bostons whole top line bounced back in a big way after a couple of efforts best described somewhere between decent and subpar, and the four Bruins goals were supplied by Krejci and linemate Milan Lucic. That line accounted for 9 of the teams 20 shots in the game, and showed off the kind of dominant performance thats been good enough for a win during the entire postseason.
The Bruins were an amazing 11-0 entering Wednesday night when one of the KrejciLucicHorton trio scores a goal, and dropped their first postseason game with any production from their top three forwards. If there were any consolation prizes during the playoff losses, the latest would be that theres been an offensive awakening from Bostons big-name forwards when they need them most.
They were very good tonight, said coach Claude Julien. That line needed to be big for us, and they were. Thats certainly something you can build on heading home. If those guys play like that again then you would have to like our chances."
It would appear Julien is on to something: if Krejci, Lucic and Horton play the same kind of game on their own home ice Friday night in Game 7, the chances of the outcome being different are remarkably close to 100 percent.
Krejci was right in the middle of a power play that struggled to get one goal in five chances, and only managed five shots on net in those five possessions. None of that was good enough to close out a quality team like the Lightning, and it certainly wasnt good enough to take them down in their own building.
It appeared early in the game that the Bruins players were aiming high glove side on Dwayne Roloson as they got comfortable in their games and both Lucic and Krejci scored their first-period goals on shots just under the crossbar in the right corner of the net. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Roloson closed things down a bit in the third period and the 41-year-old veteran is now 7-0 in elimination games during his storied NHL career.
The Bruins had killed 11 straight Tampa Bay power plays headed into Wednesday nights Game 6, but ended up allowing three straight man-advantage goals once the Lightning got their high-powered attack moving along. The Bolts are now 5-for-22 on the power play in the conference finals against the Bruins.