By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Milan Lucic has done it twice in his career, but he couldnt quitecome up with the third period game-winning goal to cap off the Gordie Howe hat trick against the Maple Leafs.
Instead Lucic had to settle for an assist and four shots on net that allowed the power forward to become only the 10th NHL player in the last six years to rack up 30 goals, 30 assists and 100 penalty minutes in he same season. The 30th helper was a beauty that set up David Krejci on a flawless break out from the defensive zone in the second period, and perfectly displayed the kind of skill Lucic can flash in any individual hockey play.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Lucic didnt stop there, however, and instead alsogot into the fight game in the second period when it was clear liberties were being taken by Toronto. The fight turned into a perfect showdown between NHL heavyweights in Lucic and Toronto tough guyJay Rosehill. The bout ended in a draw with both players throwing some thunderous right hands, and left Rosehill red-faced and yelling to himself as he skated to the penalty box.
It was a true team effort that got everyone involved while watching heavy punches being tossed by Lucic and Rosehill, and the fact both players were right back at it measuring up like boxersfollowing a brief interlude made it one of the best fights of the season. Bruins coach Claude Julien even appreciated the timing of the bout with regular Bs enforcer Shawn Thornton out with roughly 40 stitches on his forehead.
It was a good time in the game and kind of second period got us going a little bit, said Julien. And I think there was lot of little things going on that werent getting taken care of and I think that kind of did the job for both teams.
While its true there werent any knockdown punches landed -- both players left for the box in relatively good shape -- there were after effects for both players. Lucic didnt seem any worse for the wear when he spoke to a group of reporters after the game, but he did need a stitch job on his ripped Bruins sweater following the bout.
We can take some positives out of this game. We can look over some stuff that we need to work on, said Lucic. But definitely its not going to be easy come Saturday afternoon. Atlanta, you never know what youre going to get from them. Theyve been good against us this year. Theyve beat us twice and it seems like every game now heading into the end of the year is a tough battle.Michael Ryder managed only one official shot on net, and cooled off in the latter moments of the game after coming out strong in the game's opening minutes. Ryder hit a post and missed high when he was curiouslytapped by Claude Julien during the shootout, but alsomade some pretty soft plays in the offensive zone when he couldn't maintain possession once the defensive pressure caught up with him.That doesnt speak very well for a playerlike Ryder that really needs to start showing something more than the four shots in five game stretch that the right wing finds himself currently mired in.He didnt play much in the first period because of everything that was going on, said Julien. But when he was in there he had some chances. He hit the post and reacted well. Tyler Seguin missed on his shootout chance in Thursday nights 4-3 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs. He's 4-for-8 this season once the post-overtime shooting gallery gets going, but didnt seem to be dwelling on it after the game. Thats a good thing because the Bruins are scuffling wildly in any games going beyond regulation to the overtimeshootout with a 3-11 record in OT and shootouts.
Every other Bruins shooter currently on the roster aside from Seguin is 1-for-14 in shootouts this year, and its pretty clear that Julien is at his frustration point with the NHL'sshootout gimmick to decide on the two points.
I think we have to be honest here. We dont have a great shootout team. Weve talked to our goaltenders, weve talked around its not our strength. And, it is what it is, said Julien. It doesnt matter. We practice it, we use all kinds of players.
Were trying and fortunately some teams are better than others when it comes to that. If its one thing that were not a real great team at, its shootouts. But, playoffs dont have shootouts, so we can live with it.
Zdeno Chara left the bench twice during the second period and wasnt with the team on the bench to start the third period, but the towering Bs defenseman made it back for the majority of the third period without incident. Chara didnt seem to be slowed by anything when he returned to the ice, and Claude Julien wasnt took keen on supplying any info on whatever troubled the Captain. Usually that kind of incident within a game indicates an equipment issue or stomach problems for a hockey player, but the B's coach wasn't going to elaborate.
Theres nothing to report, said Julien when asked about Charas situation. There is nothing to be concerned about, as far as his situation.
Steve Kampfer returned to the lineup after a hiatus for a couple of weeks, and looked pretty comfortable after being out of game action. The rookie defenseman took a hooking penalty in the first period that was borderline, and then was the victim of a really questionable penalty shot called in overtime as he defended a Mikhail Grabovski shot. He also had four shots on net and a plus-1 in 13:57 of ice time in his first game back, and Juliensaid he was no better or worse than any other Bruins player out on the ice.You just come in and you try to keep things simple. Thats what I tried to do tonight. You know, play my game, play it simple and help these guys get a couple points, said Kampfer. But at the same time, we have a great group of guys when we practice so I think anybody can play at any time. Youre helping these guys out and youre getting back in the lineup and youre trying to accomplish the same goals they are.