Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak was the winner of NESN’s Seventh Player Award before Tuesday night’s Boston-Florida game, sponsored by Central Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Central Auto Team of Norwood. But it was winger Milan Lucic who ‘drove’ the team to a 3-2 victory with his all-important, game-winning goal at 1:09 of the final period. That goal breathed a new ‘lease-on-life’ into Boston’s battle for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The win, coupled with Ottawa’s 2-1 shootout victory over Detroit on Tuesday, kept the margin of Boston’s lead over the Senators at three points (Senators still have a game in hand). But more importantly, the B’s are a mere two points behind the Red Wings (who also have a game in hand) for third spot in the Atlantic Division, while widening the Bruins’ margin over the Panther’s to six points.
Lucic summed up the oft-mentioned ‘desperation’ aspect with: “They’ve put so much emphasis on this game and probably being the biggest game of their season, and we had to view it the same way. 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.” Coach Claude Julien again showed his confidence in his players, as he continued to use the line of Lucic-Pastrnak-Spooner, which continues to create excitement while accumulating impressive stats (16 goal and 21 assists – 37 points) for March. Julien heaped praise on Lucic and the trio with, “He (Lucic) is capable of scoring goals like that when he moves his feet. I continue to say that he has done a great job with those two young guys. That line has probably been our most productive line in the month of March. He has kept saying over the years that he wants to be a part of that leadership group and he’s just showing right now that he’s very capable of doing it.”
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara summed it up nicely, “We bounced back. We didn’t play the way we wanted to play in the second and we knew we needed to bounce back. We needed to be much better than we were, and we were. We found a way to be more effective, and we were more ourselves and we found a way to win with two big goals.” Tuukka Rask has rebounded nicely following a couple of health setbacks (migraine and dehydration), and performed well enough in his 65th game to win, but was honest in saying: “A 40-minute game today got us the win, but obviously there’s wins that feel great, and there’s wins that you take and you feel good. I don’t think this is a great win for us, but we’ll take it for sure.”
Positive changes could have Brett Connolly returning to the Boston roster with a chance to show the fans his capabilities since coming to Beantown prior to the trade deadline. The displayed fractured of his right index finger is healing nicely, and showing enough positive signs that Connolly was able to participate in warm up prior to Tuesday’s game. Bruins management and coach Julien are anxious to get the youngster some regular season work prior to the playoffs, in order to evaluate where he might be able to fit in, and help out. His return would give Julien yet another chip to play with, along with the chance of maybe returning David Krejci to center, and testing Connolly on the line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
With the season winding down rapidly, the Bruins will take on the Red Wings tonight (Thursday 7:30pm); back on Garden ice Saturday, to face the Toronto Maple Leafs (4/4 at 7:00pm); then finishing the regular season on the road with games in Washington (Wednesday 4/8 at 8:00pm), to take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals; a Thursday rematch (4/9 at 7:30pm) with Florida; and end the season with a Saturday matchup (4/11 at 7:30pm) with Tampa Bay.