BOSTON — Former Bruins winger Milan Lucic received several hearty ovations Tuesday night as he returned to TD Garden for the first time since his offseason trade to the Los Angeles Kings.
His former team was not so fortunate.
The Bruins had their doors blown off by the visiting Kings in Lucic’s Boston homecoming, scoring the first goal but surrendering the next seven en route to a 9-2 loss.
The nine goals were the most the Bruins have allowed in a game this season, and the Kings’ 57 shots on goal represented the highest single-game total against a Boston team since March 18, 1965.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Drew Doughty scored the Kings’ fourth goal of the game at the 12:09 mark of the second period, and Dwight King added their fifth just 33 seconds later. That rapid-fire meltdown put L.A. ahead 5-1 and spelled the end of the night for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who was pulled in favor of backup Jonas Gustavsson for the first time this season.
Gustavsson faced 24 shots and surrendered the Kings’ final four goals.
WELCOME BACK, LOOCH
Lucic was given a hero’s welcome in his first game back in the city that adored him for close to a decade. The Garden crowd bellowed “Luuuu” every time the big winger touched the puck, and Milan-mania reached a fever pitch when the Bruins honored Lucic with a video tribute during a first-period timeout.
A grinning Lucic waved to the crowd and nodded toward the Bruins’ bench, which still includes several of his teammates from the 2011 Stanley Cup team.
Lucic’s return ended up being both memorable and productive. He assisted on Doughty’s second-period goal and scored one of his own in the third, eliciting a roar from those in the crowd who had not yet begun to head toward the exits.
MORE FOR MARCHAND
In one of the few bright spots for the B’s, Brad Marchand continued his preposterous goal-scoring pace with a power-play tally that opened the scoring in the first. It was his team-leading 25th goal of the season and 10th in his last 10 games.
Matt Beleskey and Zdeno Chara were credited with assists.
Boston maintained that one-goal advantage until late in the first but allowed two goals — including one of the power-play variety — in the final 1:39 of the frame and carried a 2-1 deficit into the dressing room. The flurry of L.A. scoring will not be going on Kevan Miller’s highlight reel, as the Bruins defenseman was victimized on both Kings goals.
Miller again found himself on the wrong end of a score just 2:42 into the second, when pressure by Kyle Clifford forced him into a tremendously costly turnover behind the Bruins’ net. The puck slid directly to Andy Andreoff, who deposited it between Rask and the left post to make it 3-1 in favor of the visitors.
Lucic, a feared fighter during his Bruins tenure, did not drop the gloves against his old mates. Four players did, however, with Tyler Randell and Clifford scrapping early in the first period and Beleskey and Andreoff squaring off midway through the second.
Randell’s fight came a mere seven seconds into his first shift in a month, as he’d been held out of the Bruins’ previous 12 games as a healthy scratch. The rookie forward also notched his fifth goal of the season, scoring at the 4:44 mark of the third off assists from Miller and Max Talbot
The Bruins now embark on a season-long six-game road trip that begins Thursday night in Winnipeg.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins center Landon Ferraro