Smith's first Bruins' goal a game-winner

Smith's first Bruins' goal a game-winner
October 18, 2013, 2:00 am
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(USA Today Sports)

SUNRISE, Fla. – If anybody deserved to get the game-winner for the Bruins on Thursday night, it had to be Reilly Smith.

The 22-year-old Bruins winger was one of the best players on the ice in his third consecutive game playing with Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson. He wobbled a backhander past Tim Thomas with 59 seconds left to give Boston a 3-2 victory over the Panthers at the BB&T Center.

Smith had started the play by carrying the puck down low, cycling behind the net in the final minute, fed it to Bergeron hanging around in the slot and then became the beneficiary when the puck bounced back to him at the inside edge of the left face-off circle.

It was the 10th shot Smith generated in the game, and one of a handful of scoring chances that he finally cashed in on to the delight of his coach.

It was also Smith’s first career goal with the Bruins at an extremely valuable time.

“I thought he played well tonight. Not only did he score the game-winner, but he had a lot of chances early on,” said Claude Julien. “There was one time where I told him ‘you have to be a little more selfish there’ because he made a pass when he had a really good chance to shoot.

“It’s a young player really trying to do the right thing here. Sometimes you need to encourage those guys to be a little more selfish to take the shot. He’s got a great shot. He’s been reliable on the walls, he’s made good decisions offensively and he’s been a good skill player for us. I like his game.”

Smith now has points in three straight games, and probably couldn’t have imagined a better start to his career in Boston after getting traded from Dallas. He’s certainly made the most of what was originally just being a potential candidate for the third line entering his first training camp in Boston.  

“It’s a great feeling to be able to score, and help the team win,” said Smith. “We could have probably 15 or 20 shots in that game. We played pretty well. Bergeron and Eriksson did a good job of getting the puck up quickly to get the scoring chances.”

As Smith alluded to, the whole line had a good night while generating 10 of Boston’s 40 shots on net. The biggest shot turned out to be the last one for Smith, though, once it passed through both of Thomas’ leg pads on the way to the back of the net.