BOSTON — Milan Lucic entered tonight’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series with no goals in his last 20 games for the Bruins.
Boston’s power play hadn’t scored a 5-on-4 goal since April 9, a stretch of 12 games.
With one redirect of a Nathan Horton pass to the top of the crease by Lucic, both droughts ended in the Bruins’ 5-1 win that clinched a four-game sweep at the TD Garden and earned Boston a trip to the Eastern Conference finals.
When the lamp lit up after Lucic’s goal, he looked to the heavens.
“Yeah, it was great, especially, you know it was our first 5-on-4goal of the playoffs here,” said Lucic, who was Boston’s leading goal-scorer with 30 in the regular season. “So it’s nice that the power play was able to score a goal for us there. And right there was a great feeling once I scored that goal, just to get the monkey off the back and get that lead.”
Lucic added a second goal later to give Boston a 3-1 lead. While he had been shut out of the goal department in the postseason, Lucic’s linemates Horton and David Krejci have been on a roll. Now the Bruins have an entire first line that’s clicking on all cylinders heading into the showdown with Tampa Bay.
“He’s a good player for us. He’s a big, physical presence. The puck wasn’t going in the net for him. He started to show signs of getting his legs under him again, and when you haven’t scored for a while you tend to get tight,” said forward Mark Recchi. “He’s a young kid and hopefully now he’s found a really good time to start getting hot. He’s been a great teammate to everybody else this year. When guys are struggling or their fighting to score goals what good teams do is find ways to help him and take that pressure off of him.”
As for the power play, it finished the night 1-for-5 and 2 for its last 7 attempts against the Flyers. For the postseason, the totals are still an ugly 2-for-37. But there have been major signs of improvement.
“Yeah, I think our power play … has been pretty good overall,” said head coach Claude Julien. “I thought in the second period we had one there that we didn’t do a very good job with our entries and consequently we didn’t get much of a power play out of it. But once we got control in the offensive zone, I thought we’d been doing a better job of moving the puck and creating some scoring chances, so hopefully that’s something that keeps getting better, because we all know we’re going to need it.”