BOSTON — They could only be kept apart for so long.
Bruins forwards Greg Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Brad Marchand had forged a special bond in the early stages of the season. And their instant chemistry has produced some surprising offense and an unofficial name as the "energy line," largely because Thornton won't let anyone get away with calling them the fourth line anymore.
With the numbers they're putting up, it's hard to argue with Thornton, even if you were to be inclined to argue with a guy who's logged 2,468 minutes in the penalty boxes around the American Hockey League, plus another 521 in the NHL.
But this year, Thornton and his cohorts has been filling other columns on the stat sheet. The trio combined for Boston's second goal on Saturday, helping spark a comeback from a 3-0 deficit against Los Angeles to earn a point before falling in a shootout, 4-3.
"We joke around a lot about being the low line, but we have a lot of fun playing that role," said Marchand, who now has 2-5-7 totals on the season. "We want to be a spark for the team and it's working out. We're getting opportunities and we're putting some pucks in the net. I think that's huge if you have a fourth line that can do that, you know, it really benefits the team and at the same time, it kind of pushes the other lines to do the same thing, so we're having a lot of fun."
Campbell had the most fun, flipping in a rebound of a Thornton shot on a delayed penalty for the line's goal 11:57 into the second period.
"I said that all year, that his skill probably gets underrated due to the fact that he plays with me and everyone calls us the fourth line," said Thornton of Campbell. "He's really skilled, I think Marchy [Marchand] too. I think both of them have the ability to beat the opponent on one-on-one and I think they have the ability to finish. I think his vision is very underrated. I think he does a great job when he gets the puck down low finding the right people."
The trio has meshed well since being put together in the second game of the season in Prague. But they were separated three games ago, with Thornton joining rookie Tyler Seguin and Daniel Paille and Michael Ryder moving into his spot.
With David Krejci returning Saturday after missing two weeks with a concussion, Claude Julien reunited the energy line and reaped some immediate dividends.
"We have something good going," said Campbell, who improved his totals to 2-3-5 this season. "The cool thing about this team is you can really mix and match everybody. We have 12-13 good forwards on this team. But we had that good chemistry for the first 6-7 games of the year and sometimes that's going to happen, lines get juggled because of injuries and things like that. But it was nice to get him back. Our game's pretty simple, just try to play with energy, get the puck and transport it to the net."
Thornton agreed. "That's our job," said Thornton, who picked up his first assist to go with four goals. "We try just to work hard get in on the forecheck, make sure we are back on the backcheck. Try and put pressure on the other team all good things will happen."
All three did their jobs on Saturday, combining for three points, 11 shots and five hits. Campbell finally put one of those shots past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with his rebound in front.
"I don't know if it was a gift, but that's what happens when you go to the right area," said Campbell. "It was a good shot by Thorty and we had good pressure. I think they were a little tired, and you know, you're going to get rebounds if you're willing to go in front of the net.
"I think we were working hard," added Campbell. "We were getting at pucks first and that was key. We had a lot of time with the puck, and we were trying to move our feet and just trying to work. For us, it's all about being smart and simple and not trying to over-think, but to play to our strengths."
And those strengths seem to be magnified whenever those three get together.