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He’s first-rate on the third line

Kelly’s two goals spark the offense

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / November 27, 2011
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If you were looking for the model of efficiency in the Bruins’ 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets last night at TD Garden, look no further than Chris Kelly.

Through two periods, the third-line forward tallied his eighth and ninth goals of the season - on just three shots - doing it in 8 minutes and 18 seconds of ice time.

His first goal at 7:28 of the second period was shorthanded, in which he mopped up Rich Peverley’s deep rush to the net to tie the score, 2-2. He got the winner by beating Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec from the right circle with a slap shot off a pretty point-to-point pass from Benoit Pouliot.

“Just a lucky period,’’ said Kelly, who has four goals and two assists in the past five games.

There was little wonder when Kelly’s name was announced as the game’s No. 1 star.

“Kelly continues to have a real good year for us,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He’s one of those guys that flies under the radar most times. There are always bigger names that get mentioned ahead of him, but he’s probably one of our most consistent forwards this year and continues to impress on the stat sheet.’’

After two periods, Kelly’s stat line read: Three shots. Two goals. Plus-2.

Talk about an efficient use of ice time.

Asked if he could recall being as efficient, Kelly replied with a chuckle, “Not that I remember.’’

Kelly’s second-period goals helped the Bruins erase a 2-1 first-period deficit.

He narrowly missed an empty-netter in the third period, firing wide right of the net.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, especially the first one,’’ Kelly said of his shorthanded goal, which was due in large part to Peverley’s rush, which drew the attention of defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian.

It enabled Kelly, who was trailing on the play, to come sweeping in for a chip shot when Peverly fanned and left the puck teed up in the crease.

“Rich is probably one of the best skaters in the league and he takes the puck right to the net, like a lot of guys don’t, but I happened to be rewarded on that one,’’ Kelly said. “It was a great pass by Benny on the second one.

“We’re just having a lot of fun right now,’’ Kelly said. “The three of us are getting real familiar with one another and it’s a far cry from last year, when Rich and I got to this team and things didn’t go quite as we wanted to early on.’’

But now, it seems, Kelly, a self-described defensive-minded forward, has seemed to spread his offensive wings with 9-7-16 totals on the season.

“He’s one of those guys [who] is contributing so well for us and that’s giving our team a lot more depth with scoring,’’ Julien said. “And with Peverley on his line right now and Pouliot, who is playing better, made up a really good line for us.’’

Although he has prided himself on his defense, Kelly contributed with some timely offense last night.

“I think he’s proved it all year,’’ Peverley said. “He’s having a great year, scoring a lot of big goals for us and tonight was no different. He’s finishing his chances, which is important.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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