That works more often than not, but on some nights, the B’s are left to call on their big guns to help them come away with a win. That was certainly the case Monday night in Carolina where the Bruins’ first line came up big in a 5-3 win over the Hurricanes.
The trio of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic made their presence felt all night. The end result was yet another win, a victory propelled by Claude Julien‘s top line.
When Horton scored late in the second period to bump the Boston lead to 3-1, it looked as if Boston would coast to its first road win of the season. However, some uncharacteristic sloppy play late in the period allowed the Canes back into the game. Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal scored late in the second, and the B’s were on their heels heading into the third tied at three.
Despite the sudden swing in momentum entering the third period, the B’s never panicked. The Black and Gold was much better with the puck, much smarter with their passing and decision-making, and it allowed them to slow the Carolina momentum.
“They came back there in the second, but we were still tied and we knew we could win it and we just kept pushing and it came right down to the end,” Horton said, noting that the club wasn’t pressing too hard heading into the third.
The back-and-forth affair wasn’t settled until the final minutes, though. The top line turned in solid shifts all night, but it saved its best for the end, where they totally dominated Carolina with just under two minutes to play.
It started with Krejci hustling into the Carolina zone to put the pressure on the Carolina defense. He was quickly joined by Horton and Lucic on the forecheck, with both clamping down below the goal line, keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Lucic was able to muscle Jay Gleason off the puck to help Boston earn possession.
That also let Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton increase their pressure from the blue line, allowing the Bruins to set things up. Lucic, as he’s done all year, was able to get to the net and get net-front pressure in front of Cam Ward. That left the Hurricanes scrambling. The hard work paid off when the Bruins got a good bounce when Jay Harrison tried to glove a puck down, but the deflection went right to Hamilton who moved deeper into the zone, corralled the puck and instead of taking the shot, dished it across the slot to Krejci, who banged home the goal.
It was a thing of beauty from beginning to end. In just 20 seconds, the top line showcased everything that makes it so good. The hustle to get to the loose pucks was there. The size of Horton and Lucic allowed them to up the pressure. Krejci, once again, put himself in the right place to make the play.
It was the culmination of a big night from a big line that could be measured on the goal sheet and in other places. Krejci and Horton both tallied a pair of points. Lucic, who has arguably been the best player on the Boston roster this season, was held pointless. However, he did other things to contribute. He screened Cam Ward on Zdeno Chara‘s power-play goal in the first period. Moments later, he dropped the gloves and squared off with Tim Gleason. He had a game-high six hits as well.
The Bruins hang their hats on team-wide efforts to win hockey games. Other lines contributed on Monday as well, but it was line-wide effort from the B’s top line that is the biggest reason they head home with yet another win under their belt.