It was uncertain whether or not David Krejci would return to Wednesday nights tilt against the Florida Panthers after a hard check left him in pain on the ice during the first period.
Fortunately, for the Bruins, Krejci returned minutes later and made an immediate impact.
At 1:52 of the second period, Krejci won the most important of his six face offs, the one that set up Milan Lucic for what would turn out to be the game-winning goal in the Bruins 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers in Boston’s final game before the all-star break.
The Bruins held their collective breath while the medical staff attended to Krejci’s arm. When Krejci left the ice and proceeded past the Bruins bench the tension at the Garden rose. Krejci’s return was a mystery to all, except for Krejci himself, who knew even before the medical staff examined him in the hallway behind the Bruins bench.
“When I was skating off the ice I knew the shoulder was fine so I was pretty sure I would come back,” Krejci said.
That’s a relief to all associated with the Bruins organization. Center Marc Savard went down last Saturday in Colorado after suffering a moderate concussion. Savard has two goals in eight assists in 25 games this season for the Bruins. Savard was sent home to Ontario to recover by Claude Julien and the timetable for his return is uncertain.
“It was a relief that he did come back after losing Savvy,” Lucic said. “Obviously that was a tough loss, you don’t want to see another centerman go down. So it was great that he was able to tough it out and recover and keep going.”
Not only did Krejci keep going but also he made his presence felt. Krejci’s assist to Lucic was his eighth assist in as many games. Lucic’s goal was his fourth goal in his last six games. The goal marked the first time in Lucic’s career that he reached the 20-goal mark before the all-star break. A strong chemistry is beginning to form between Krejci and Lucic while Savard continues to be plagued by injuries.
“I’m happy where we are so far and I don’t want to stop that,” Krejci said. “We need him as much as we need myself to create the chances for him so if we can continue that then everybody will be happy.”
And the Bruins should be happy. Boston goes into the All-star break with a win, health and a division lead.
“The main focus was to end on a good note,” Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said. “Heading into the break I thought we had a good effort. Obviously we wanted to bounce back from that L.A. game. I was very happy with the win.”
It could have been easy for the Bruins to look past the Panthers, the Southeastern division bottom feeders, as they returned to the Garden after their two-game west coast swing. Timely saves by all-star Tim Thomas in the waning seconds secured the Bruins victory.
“The break, as you mentioned does not start until after the game,” Julien said. “We had to be focused today and we did a good job of that.”