BOSTON — The Bruins needed offense trailing 2-1 to start the third period in Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers. The remedy was more ice time for the red-hot Milan Lucic-Ryan Spooner-David Pastrnak line, which scored two third-period goals to help Boston earn a 3-2 win.
“Everything seems to be clicking right now,” Lucic said of his line. “We’re supporting each other well, we’re coming up the ice together well, we’re finding each other, and we’re also getting some puck luck as well. I think that’s also a big part of it, but you know, when you’re working the right way and putting the work in, you tend to get luck on your side.
“We’ve just got to keep it going and try not to get things too high and try to stay even keeled and keep contributing to this team’s success.”
This line didn’t receive a ton of ice time through the first two periods. In fact, after Brad Boyes gave Florida its first lead with a goal at 12:37 of the second period, this line played just one more shift before the intermission.
|TOI||Milan Lucic||Ryan Spooner||David Pastrnak|
The third period was a different story. All three players received over five minutes of ice time, and the line produced two goals. Pastrnak started it with his 11th goal of the season on a deflection at the edge of the crease. It appeared Spooner had scored on his shot from the half wall, but the goal officially was credited to Pastrnak.
Lucic scored the go-ahead goal with just over one minute left in regulation by taking on two Panthers defenders and sniping a wrist shot past Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo.
The Bruins would not control their own destiny in the playoff race without this line’s offensive production in March. Here’s a quick recap of each player’s scoring in 15 March games (team rank in parentheses).
This line was put together just a few weeks ago, and while there’s still progress to be made — especially in the defensive zone — the chemistry these players have formed is impressive.
“It takes some time,” Spooner said. “We’ve had some instances where I haven’t been where I should be and all of that kind of stuff. I guess the more that we play as a line and stuff like that the more we learn where we are and stuff. It’s good right now.”
— The Bruins went 0-for-4 with just three shots on goal with the man advantage against a Panthers penalty kill that entered Tuesday ranked 22nd with an 80.2 percent success rate. Boston’s best scoring chance came during a third-period power play when Carl Soderberg was robbed by a tremendous blocker save from Luongo.
[tweet https://twitter.com/myregularface/status/583071439806296064 align=”center”]
Boston is now 0-for-8 on the power play in the last three games, which follows a season-high four straight games with a PP tally.
— Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 22 saves on 24 shots for a .917 save percentage. He’s now 12-1-1 all-time against the Panthers.
— The Bruins controlled the majority of puck possession with a 54-42 edge in shot attempts, including a 45-35 advantage at even strength. Boston also led 30-15 in scoring chances during 5-on-5 play, per War on Ice.
— Loui Eriksson hit the 20-goal mark for the fifth time in his career with a first-period tally. He showed remarkable patience to beat Luongo with a backhand shot.
— Here’s an updated look at the wild card playoff race.
Bruins: 91 points, 77 games, 36 ROW
Senators: 88 points, 76 games, 32 ROW
Panthers: 85 points, 77 games, 27 ROW
— Brett Connolly took the pre-game warmup for his first time with the Bruins, but he did not take part in line rushes. The right winger has been making good progress from a fractured finger in his right hand suffered soon after Boston acquired him from the Tampa Bay Lightning at the March 2 NHL trade deadline. Connolly hasn’t yet taken contact in practice, but he said again after Tuesday’s morning skate that he’s “getting closer” to a return.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images