BOSTON – Maybe the most memorable part of Milan Lucic’s night was scoring three goals in one game. Or perhaps it was giving teammate Tuukka Rask his first win, but most likely it was being able to adorn the festive fedora during the post game.
“After I did my interview on the bench, the guys put the hat in my locker here,” Lucic said. “It was Brad Marchand’s hat that we all signed up and I got the honor of wearing it tonight.”
Though stylish, it paled in comparison to Lucic’s efforts on the ice. Going into the third period, the Bruins held a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Lucic’s goal in the first period, and with a lot on the line, it was the Horton-Lucic-Bergeron combination that brought home the bacon.
With less than six minutes to go in regulation, it looked as though the Bruins would have to ride out a 1-0 lead if they were going to win the game. With some stellar saves coming from their own side of the rink and a seemingly impassable Tomas Vokoun on the other, the entirety of TD Garden was holding its breath, hoping for it all to just end right then.
And then it happened.
After the previous rush had Tyler Seguin overshoot on the backdoor, with a gaping net staring him in the face, Lucic took the puck into the zone just a minute later, shoved his way through the defense, and found an opening in the top corner, far side to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead, and give him his second goal of the game at 14:42.
While everyone must have been thinking of the possibility of Lucic earning a third with an empty netter if the Panthers decided to pull Vokoun, I don’t think anyone expected him to net it just 15 seconds later, and certainly not the Panthers.
“We were in there,” Panthers forward David Booth said. “Their line was the difference in the game. It really was a one-to-nothing game all the way.”
Before this game, it had been a while since Lucic had found the back of the net at home. In fact, it dated back into last year against the Flyers in the playoffs where he netted two in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But his last regular season goal was way back on April 10, 2010 against the Carolina Hurricanes–and it was an empty netter.
“It’s been a while since I’ve scored a regular season goal at home, so it’s good to have that monkey off my back and Florida is also a team I haven’t scored against, so that’s nice,” Lucic said. “So for myself, I feel confident I have an opportunity to score and I‘m shooting the puck, so I have to keep working on it, and keep firing as hard as I can.”
Besides the eventual win, one of the most rewarding aspects for the Bruins team has been seeing Lucic excel after a year of turmoil and injury. Lucic has already passed his total goals scored from last year and has 17 points in 17 games this season, marking him leading scorer on the Bruins and second only to Horton (18) in points.
“It’s no secret, goals and everything didn’t come easy for me last year,” Lucic said. “I’m just happy that I worked hard this year and happy how things are going so far. It’s great to have early on success, but I need to do whatever I can to keep it up and keep pushing.”