Milan Lucic chose the right time to have one of his better games of the season.
After turning in a heavy performance with new linemates in regulation, Lucic fired a wrester from the top of the zone in overtime that Patrice Bergeron tipped on its way past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Bruins a desperately needed 3-2 victory over the Metropolitan-leading Penguins (box). Lucic finished the game with a pair of assists, both of which came on Bergeron goals.
With the Maple Leafs losing to the Capitals Wednesday night, the victory put the Bruins into the playoff picture. Now 20-15-6, the B’s are currently in possession of the second Wild Card spot to sit eighth in the Eastern Conference.
The victory was Boston’s first with a healthy roster this season, as they are now 1-1-3 in games in which they have no players out with injuries.
Tuukka Rask made 37 shots on 39 shots faced. The win technically extended a point-streak to five games for the Bruins, though they’re just 2-0-3 in that span.
Here are four more things we learned Wednesday:
BRUINS MORE NERVOUS THAN DETERMINED
Given how they played Sunday and what Charlie Jacobs said about the team Tuesday, you would think that the Bruins would come out furious each period. Instead, the Bruins came out for the first two periods Wednesday looking just as indifferent as they have all season.
The Penguins carried the pace early in the first period before the B’s found their legs as the frame went on.
Given that the B’s were able to tie the game late in the period on a Zdeno Chara slap shot, you would think they’d come out for the second period riled up. Instead, the Bruins did not attempt a shot until 8:31 into the second.
In the third period, the Bruins landed just one shot on goal in the first 13-plus minutes, though they were at least shooting the puck, which was, horrifyingly, a step in the right direction.
Things like leadership are not quantifiable, but some of the alarmingly poor starts to periods the Bruins have had this season were not regular occurrences in years past.
THE LINES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’
The Bruins started the game with the top-six they had switched to during Sunday’s loss to the Hurricanes ‘ Marchand-Bergeron-Griffith and Lucic-Krejci-Smith ‘ but for the third straight game, Claude Julien jumbled his lines mid-game.
Such a development is practically unheard of, as Julien has been a set-it-and-forget-it coach for years with the Bruins, but he went to a never-before-seen line of Bergeron between Lucic and Daniel Paille late in the first period. The line would score in the second period when Lucic took the puck into the corner and threw a pass in front that Marc-Andre Fleury pushed off of Paille. Bergeron flew in to put the puck top shelf and give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
The line had two more chances, both for Paille, on the very next shift. Paille raced to a puck entering the zone and, as he’s wont to do in such situations, missed the net. Later in the shift, he took a feed at the left circle and sent the puck over the net.
ERIKSSON IN PAIN
Loui Eriksson appeared to be in pain in the second period after taking a slash to the right hand from Robert Bortuzzo during a second-period power play.
Eriksson took another shift after the play, but Gregory Campbell played in his place on the shift after that, which was the Soderberg line’s final shift of the period. Eriksson was back on the bench for the start of the third period and took an offensive zone penalty for holding in his first shift back, but he did not play the last 10 minutes of the third period or any of overtime.
WITH PASTRNAK’S RETURN, GRIFFITH MIGHT SIT
David Pastrnak will play his sixth NHL game Thursday against the Devils, but he was a healthy scratch Wednesday. In case there was any doubt who’s spot he will take Thursday, Julien may have tipped his hand.
Julien shortened his bench a bit in the game, giving Seth Griffith only three shots in the second period and none in the third. His last shift of the game ended at 12:30 of the second.
Griffith, probably a good third-line winger who’s benched a bit out of his weight class by being used as Krejci’s right wing (mostly admirably so given that it’s just his second professional season), has been scratched at points this season when he hasn’t been used as Krejci’s right wing.
Craig Cunningham was given one third-period shift, though he’s better suited for fourth-line shifts than Griffith.