Lucic did a little bit of everything Tuesday night in Washington, earning a rare Gordie Howe Hat Trick to lead the Bruins to an impressive 3-1 win at Washington.
That feat entails collecting a goal, an assist and a fighting major in the same game. Lucic did exactly that by picking up the secondary assist on David Krejci's goal to open the scoring in the first. Lucic then scored what proved the game-winner later in the first, before rounding out his night by trading punches with Capitals defenseman John Erskine in the third.
"That's just what happens, two physical guys going at one another," said Lucic of the fight in a post-game interview on Versus. "Sometimes things like that happen. We both know our roles and we're both going to play that way."
Lucic fought Erskine once before, taking the worst of a bout with the big blueliner during Lucic's rookie year. But on Tuesday, Lucic gave every bit as good as he took, landing several solid shots in a spirited scrap that helped put an exclamation mark on the victory that pushed Boston's winning streak to three games.
It was Lucic's second Gordie, matching an effort he made as a rookie in an 8-6 win at Los Angeles on Oct. 12, 2007. He scored his first NHL goal that night, while also assisting on an Aaron Ward tally and fighting Raitis Ivanans. The two Gordie Howe Hat Tricks matches the total of the man whom the feat was named for, though Hall of Famer Howe did it over 26 seasons in the NHL, plus six more in the WHA.
Lucic needed just four games into his fourth season to collect his second. He'll need to do a lot more to approach Howe's total of 801 goals in the NHL, but he's doing his best in that category so far this year.
Tuesday's goal was his third already this season, after he managed just nine in 50 games in an injury-plagued 2009-10 campaign. Lucic is loving life on the Bruins top line with Krejci and newcomer Nathan Horton. That trio has combined for seven goals and 17 points through four games.
"First of all, we're doing a good job moving our feet, making turnovers and being responsible in the defensive zone," said Lucic of the line's success. "I think that's what's giving us lots of chances. And also we're just having so much fun playing with each one another and I think that's also contributing to our success."
They're not the only Bruins enjoying the club's early-season success. Goalie Tim Thomas is quickly putting his own disappointing and injury-marred 2009-10 season behind him.
Thomas won his third straight start, making 35 saves against Washington's high-flying offense. Thomas has now stopped 94 of the 96 shots he's faced this season, flashing the form that won him the Vezina two years ago.
"It's no surprise really," said Lucic of Thomas. "We've seen him like this before. We expected him to be like this and get back to full form coming into this season. It's great to see him back where we want him to be. There's some good things going on right now."
With the way the Bruins are playing, even a bad night can have a happy ending. Defenseman Matt Hunwick struggled mightily in his own zone in the early going, with his turnover behind the Bruins' net leading to Washington's lone goal in the second period.
But Hunwick bounced back in the third, firing in a shot from the left point while Jordan Caron and Patrice Bergeron provided the screen in front for a key insurance goal.
Zdeno Chara also did his usual yeoman's work, playing a game-high 29:05, most of which was out opposite Washington star Alex Ovechkin. Chara won that battle, finishing a plus-1, while Ovechkin was held pointless for the first time this season and was a minus-2.
Now the Bruins can finally return home, as their world travels are over for the time being and they'll have their long-awaited home opener at the Garden against these same Capitals on Thursday.
"It feels like forever since we played our last home game," said Lucic. "But we're looking forward to it and I'm sure we're going to get a great reception from the crowd."
If Lucic collects another Gordie Howe Hat Trick on Garden ice, Boston fans may never stop cheering.
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