Milan Lucic had played in his hometown just once in his four seasons as a pro. He even had his dreams of playing there as an Olympian dashed a year ago when a pair of injuries scuttled his once promising prospects of such an honor.
So when he finally made it back to Vancouver this week, the Bruins forward was determined to make the most of it. Mission accomplished.
After playing tour guide for his teammates, catching up with family and friends and being honored by his junior team as the Bruins enjoyed a rare extended stay in a road city between games the previous three days, Lucic got down to business Saturday night at Rogers Arena.
Facing the team with the best record in the NHL and a squad that has been all but unbeatable on home ice, Lucic factored into all three Bruins goals as Boston rallied for a 3-1 win over the Canucks.
"It's great, it's almost like a dream come true," Lucic said. "You dream of times like these as a kid, coming to your hometown, playing in the NHL and to be able to step up and play a game like this and get a win and everything I went through this week, it's really humbling. I'm really happy with the way it went."
The Bruins are happy as well, as Lucic keyed a huge third period to pull out the victory. After the Canucks jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first, the Bruins tied it in the second when Lucic set up Nathan Horton in front with a pass from behind the Vancouver net.
Then with just 4:38 left in the third, Lucic took care of the game-winner himself. The referees ignored a blatant interference penalty as Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo tied up Lucic on a rush, but David Krejci took care of things himself with a spectacular rush down the slot and around behind the net. He came out on the right side and set up Dennis Seidenberg for a shot from the point. That was blocked, but Lucic battled through Salo's check to set up in the right slot, and banged in the rebound for the go-ahead goal.
Lucic was the hometown hero with the goal, but was quick to credit Krejci for the slick stickhandling that set it up.
"He's great," Lucic said of Krejci. "I talk about him all the time, the confidence he has with the puck and the moves he can make. He's one of, if not our best playmaker and that's a big reason why I've scored a lot of goals this year."
Lucic then played playmaker himself to close out the scoring. Lucic leads the NHL with five empty-net goals, but with 1:13 left and Roberto Luongo pulled for the extra attacker, he passed the puck to Patrice Bergeron this time for the goal that clinched it.
"It was awesome," Lucic said. "Definitely the perfect ending to a perfect couple days here in Vancouver. Even when we went down 1-0 we never got nervous. We had a big, strong second period and we were able to carry that on to the third. It was great we were able to get that victory."
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