With one jarring hit that plastered Carolina’s Dennis Seidenberg into the glass along the boards near his own net, Milan Lucic revitalized his team, the fans, and possibly this Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Seemingly buoyed by Lucic’s momentum swaying hit, the Bruins struck for two goals late in the first period en route to a 4-0 blanking of the Hurricanes that keeps Boston’s season alive as the series shifts back to Raleigh with Carolina boasting a 3-2 series lead.
“Well, it was a deep pass and I just wanted to get up to him and maybe just cause a turnover and finish my check there,” said Lucic. “And then their defense got into it so we responded after that.”
Seidenberg took a slashing penalty shortly after the hit and Mark Recchi potted a power-play goal to ignite the Boston offense (which had been mighty quiet since Game 1).
After the game, Lucic’s use of his body proved to be a hot topic in the Bruins’ locker room.
“Yeah, that’s what (Lucic) does best,” said defenseman Dennis Wideman. “He gets in, he’s got good speed for a big man and he hits hard. Anytime he can get in, we can get the puck in to his side of the ice, in his corner and get him in there throwing hits, that’s going to help us.”
Added coach Claude Julien: “I think, obviously, we needed to come in tonight with more energy and we needed to be a little more committed to playing the way we’ve talked about, the way our team has played all year… (Lucic) being the physical player that he is, certainly got the crowd behind us, and there’s no doubt the rest of the team fed off it.”
Lucic’s ability to dig the puck out of the corner helped the Bruins generate 40 shots on net, its most shots in a playoff game since putting 44 shots on net against Montreal on April 15, 2004.
“As soon as we got the puck in that corner, (Lucic) was all over their (defensemen) and I was there to support him,” said linemate Marc Savard. “[Carolina is] still a good team and we have to be at our best on Tuesday.”
But can the Bruins carry the momentum of Lucic’s hit and the Game 5 win to Raleigh?
“We really have to,” said Lucic. “Anything less than what we’ve had tonight is unacceptable. We know that they’re going to be ready to play and that their fans will be into it. They’re going to try and throw everything at us. We expect them to bring their best and we need to respond. We need to take it a step forward.”