For Milan Lucic, it’s the small steps forward that are a sign that things are getting better.
On a line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, the Bruins power forward charged the net and was rewarded with a pass from Eriksson that gave him a chance to put the puck into a vacated net for just his fourth goal of the season. Lucic had all the time in the world to think about how many missed chances he’s had to score this season. Instead, he put it in for arguably the easiest non-empty goal he’s ever scored.
“I saw that he saw me and I knew he’s capable of making the play,” Lucic said of Eriksson. “It was just a great play by Loui, heads up play to see me there all by myself in front of the net and for myself you saw it was a little bit of delayed I just wanted to make sure I put that one in the back of the net.”
Lucic scored just his fourth goal of the season in Boston’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins Monday night at TD Garden.
“I think, all in all, we played a pretty good game,” Lucic said. “We didn’t spend too much time in our own zone and we were able to create a bunch of scoring chances. I think what got a better is we were attacking with a lot more speed off the rush and we were strong on the pucks and driving to the front of the net and trying to create chances that way. For myself just on that goal, just driving the net, stopping in front, and a great play by Carl and Loui to get me the puck there for that first goal.”
He was also in front of the net when Eriksson put a puck on net with both Lucic and Soderberg charging the crease. The puck went in off Soderberg but the goal was disallowed when the referee ruled on replay that Soderberg shoved it in with his glove.
“I thought it was a good goal,” Lucic said. “I mean none of us made contact with the goalie. None of us ‘ there was no batting motion with the hands, but it’s one of those things you can’t control. We all thought it was a good goal and looking at it now it probably could’ve been the difference in the game. Again, referees have to go by their best judgments and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get the call there.”
With just four goals and seven assists in 23 games, Lucic knows his production is not close to what the Bruins need going forward this season, especially on a team that is struggling with injuries and scoring depth.
“Well I think there’s pressure on all of us, especially when things aren’t going in you start to feel I guess that pressure a little bit, but I mean I think the main thing is you try not to think about it too much and focus on the little things and what you need to do to start producing,” Lucic said. “Like driving the net and stopping in front and that’s what got me my goal and we had us some other pretty good chances despite driving the net and going hard to the net. So, like I said if you focus on just doing the little things right that will turn into production.
“It sucks that we lost but from a personal standpoint we want to try and build off the type of game that you had to carry on to the next couple games.
“I think we got to do a little bit of a better job in getting that first goal. You look at records around the league when teams score the first goal there is a pretty good percentage that they end up winning the game. We’ve done a good job at battling back, but still it’s a lot easier to play with the lead and move forward and I think we got to put a little emphasis on that going into Friday [vs. Winnipeg].”
Lucic admitted he needs to start producing like a “Top-6″ forward on his team.
“It’s really important,” he said. “I think our compete level in the last couple games has been there and it’s where we want it to be. We just got to be more hungry and committed in the o-zone and try to score goals. For myself, obviously, the production isn’t there where you’d like it to be, but if you keep working at it and keep doing things like we did tonight, going to the net, stopping in front, trying to find loose pucks. You know a lot of the goals are scored right in front of the net so for myself, just try to gain some confidence from scoring a goal here tonight. We can’t let an overtime loss bring us down we got to keep our compete level up and keep on pushing.”
And with David Krejci out, Claude Julien is trying to give Lucic another big body to work with in Carl Soderberg.
“He does a really good job of using his big body to protect the puck,” Lucic said. “You’ve seen the player that he’s grown into, as far as confidence in all areas of the ice and especially producing offensively he’s become a dangerous threat as far as that goes. You saw tonight when we’re working off each other we can be an effective line so we got to take these next three days of practice and keep building that chemistry.”