By Chris Chirichiello, Bruins Daily
Milan Lucic’s 2014-2015 season has been full of ups and downs. Tuesday night at TD Garden, the eighth-year power forward showed a killer attitude, and his linemates followed suit in the Bruins’ 3-2, come-from-behind win against the Florida Panthers.
The trio has carried the B’s offense for the entire month of March, scoring 15 goals in 15 games. It was no different Tuesday night. After the B’s squandered a 1-0 lead, they found themselves trailing 2-1 heading into the third period, but David Pastrnak netted his 11th goal of the year and Lucic added his 18th goal in grand fashion to send TD Garden into a frenzy.
Lucic, Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner combined for two goals and four assists in the crucial win. Head coach Claude Julien praised Lucic’s play and leadership of the younger kids in his post-game press conference.
“I continue to say that he done a great job with those two young guys,” Julien said about the Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak trio. “That line has probably been our most productive line in the month of March. They’re a young line that has a guy that feels like he wants to lead them, and he has done a good job of that. He has kept saying over the years that he wants to be a part of that leadership group, and he’s just showing it right now that he’s very capable of doing it.”
Lucic, who scored the game-winner with 1:09 remaining in regulation, spoke afterward about the chemistry with his linemates.
“Everything seems to be clicking right now,” Lucic said. “We’re supporting each other well, we’re coming up the ice together well, we’re finding each other, and we’re also getting some puck luck as well. I think that’s also a big part of it, but you know, when you’re working the right way and putting the work in, you tend to get luck on your side. We’ve just got to keep it going and try not to get things too high and try to stay even keeled and keep contributing to this team’s success.”
The killer instinct by the B’s was evident in the third period, playing against the clock and a one-goal deficit. That killer instinct was created by Lucic and company.
The Lucic line created many scoring chances on the night, combining for six shots on net.
“Obviously being down 2-1 going into the third, we had to have the same desperation and that mentality as they did—playing for your lives type of mentality—and you saw on the opening shift in the third period we went right into the offensive zone and created a chance,” said the Vancouver-born winger. “So we’re going to need more of that with five games left here, especially four of them on the road. So we’re going to have to play good hard, smart hockey and keep finding ways to win.”
Lucic has never been the “veteran” on his line. It is fun to see him skating fast and moving his feet while providing that edge alongside two undersized forwards. He is welcoming his role with open arms.
“Yeah, I’ve never really been in this position where you’re the oldest guy and you know, a lot more games than both of them put together,” Lucic said. “Just trying to enjoy it and trying to have fun with it—you see they’re having a lot of fun, just trying to have that, I guess, youthful fun like I had when I was their age. It’s become contagious between the three of us. You just want to—as an athlete and as a competitor—you just want to be able to contribute in any way that you can and it’s nice to get some results.
Spooner, who has completely changed the dynamic of this B’s team, had his share of ups and downs before his recent call up. Luckily, Spooner found himself fitting in nicely, with Lucic helping him along the way.
“He’s been great,” Spooner said about No. 17. “I mean, we’ve had some games where we haven’t really played to the best that we can, and he always just says to us that we have to keep at it and stuff like that. So, it’s been great to have him for sure.”
The 23-year old also assisted on Pastrnak’s tying goal.
“Yeah, I just kind of looked at it and I saw that Pasta’s (David Pastrnak) going to the net and I kind of saw their D-man didn’t come over on me so I just tried to go in behind him and it was a great pass and it went in,” Spooner added about the tying goal.
Against the Rangers, Lucic got a break when his first goal was deemed a good one after an official review saw no distinct kicking motion. A few days later, he was nearly offsides before scoring Tuesday’s game-winner.
“First off, I was just checking to see that Spoons (Ryan Spooner) was onside and then kind of one-on-four situation and I just tried to get a pass to two D men on net and like I said, got a little bit of luck there and was able to find a hole in the five-hole there,” said Lucic. “Just one of those things where you’re kind of swarmed and you’re just getting the puck on net and thankfully it went in for myself and ends up being a big goal for a big win.”
It is crazy to think where the B’s would be without Spooner and Pastrnak. Sure, they are very skilled players with a knack for the back of the net, but the guidance from Lucic can’t go unnoticed.
Lucic is benefiting from the youngsters while the youngsters continue to learn from the 26 year-old “veteran.” As a result, they’ve helped the Black and Gold hold a three point lead on the ninth place Ottawa Senators for the last wild card spot entering the final month of the regular season.