ATLANTA — Thanks to Mark Recchi’s late power-play goal, the Bruins scrapped out a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay last night to take a 2-point lead over Montreal in the Northeast Division.
But almost as notable as the win was the reduction of ice time for top-liners Marc Savard and Nathan Horton. For an eight-minute stretch following Martin St. Louis’s tying goal in the third, Claude Julien went with three lines, leaving Savard, Horton, and Tyler Seguin on the bench.
“Right now, it seems that five-on-five, they’ve had some chances, but they’re not producing,” Julien said. “You’re relying on that line to help you score some big goals. That’s the challenge right now that we have. You hate to break up the [David] Krejci line. Our fourth line has been pretty steady and reliable for the most part. You’re looking to find the pieces. You hope you can get that line going instead of trying to tweak it. But last night, we cut our bench down a little bit there late in the third. You have to do what you’ve got to do. Sometimes it’s a mindset. I think right now, [Milan Lucic] hasn’t scored in a while, but Horts has been even longer. With Nathan, he’s got to start having more confidence in his mind that he’s capable of scoring again.”
Horton hasn’t scored a goal in his last seven games. He played only 11:36 last night, the least he’s seen all year. Some players might respond well to a reduction in ice time. But Julien made it sound like Horton needs to be built up, not torn down.
“He’s one of those players you have to work with,” Julien said. “That’s where it’s important for me to work with him. That’s what he needs. He needs more encouragement than anything else.”
Savard and Horton were on the ice for St. Louis’s tying goal. They didn’t see the ice again until the power play at 18:10.
“I think that was kind of the way things were going,” Savard said of the benching. “We had a couple problems in the third. I thought during the game, we played OK. Just the third period, we had a little bit of issues. That’s it.”