If the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to slow down the hottest forward line in the NHL, it doesn’t appear they’re going to get any help from the injury bug.
Milan Lucic was stitched up and returned to Game 4 Wednesday night after taking a puck to the face. Lucic drove to the net on center David Krejci’s game-winning overtime goal that gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead in the series.
And Krejci’s other wing Nathan Horton, who was felled by a leg-on-leg hit from Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf during the breakout pass that sprung Krejci, was also looking in tip-top shape in the Bruins’ dressing room Thursday at TD Garden.
“I feel good,” Horton said. “It’s obviously a big win for us. I think everybody feels good today. But we know the job’s not done. The last one’s always the hardest.”
The Bruins had quite a scare with Horton going down on the last play of the game, but he was up and skating off on his own just as Krejci ended the game.
The line of Krejci between Lucic and Horton has combined for 22 points, entering Game 5 Friday night. Krejci leads all NHL scorers with 10 points. Krejci is on fire in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. And it doesn’t appear the Leafs have an answer defensively for that line.
Meanwhile, coach Claude Julien isn’t too worried that his team is relying too much on Krejci’s line to carry it to the second round.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that that line is leading the way right now. But [Patrice Bergeron] scores a goal last night. You’re going to say it’s a power play. I think [Bergeron’s] played well,” Julien said. “I thought Tyler [Seguin] played extremely well here in Boston and that line was actually good. But I don’t think Tyler played his best, and neither did Brad [Marchand], in Toronto. They’ve got a chance to redeem themselves here. But the other lines have, at some point, have produced as well. But Krejci’s line is without a doubt the dominant line and I think that’s the biggest thing. We saw that, and I feel like I’m repeating myself, but we saw that a few years back when I thought [Chris] Kelly, [Rich] Peverley and [Michael] Ryder were a dominant line in the Montreal series. And then the other lines picked it up afterwards. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of always having somebody doing something to help us win hockey games. So far that’s what’s been happening.”