Bruins forward Daniel Paille scored a goal against Carolina on Saturday.
And then he didn’t.
Paille was benched in the Bruins’ 2-1 victory at TD Garden. And then he wasn’t.
The veteran Bruins winger was riding one heck of a roller coaster in a crucial win that stopped a two-game losing streak. When the final horn sounded and the Bruins had hung on, it was all worth the ride.
Paille’s benching was unusual in that it didn’t start until he had taken one more penalty-kill shift after his first-period gaffe led to Carolina’s goal. Paille meekly turned over the puck to Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera at the Boston blue line with about 6:25 elapsed in the game.
Sekera’s shot from the left circle didn’t beat goaltender Tuukka Rask, but Carolina was able to keep the pressure on the Bruins until Jiri Tlusty’s one-timer from the right circle put the Hurricanes ahead 1-0.
Paille got back on the ice at the end of the Bruins’ game-turning penalty kill, which included 1:47 of a 5-on-3, later in the period. After he got off the ice with 10:27 remaining, he didn’t get back on until 3:50 had gone by in the second period. Paille was expecting some sort of punishment for his lack of effort.
“Yeah, before the game I started talking about being energized and so much more emotion, and I was saying earlier that that play unfortunately was a little too slow to react to get the puck in, but I was itching for my chance to get back out there,” Paille said.
Julien rarely uses ice time as a motivator, especially when the Bruins are as banged up as they are now. Left winger Brad Marchand has been pinned to the bench a few times over the years. Reilly Smith, Nathan Horton and Phil Kessel have also ridden the pine in Julien’s tenure. But when it comes to a blue-collar player like Paille, typically Julien keeps giving out consistent opportunities for redemption. Julien rarely shortens his bench, and at the very least the Bruins need Paille to kill a penalty, which was what happened in the first period against Carolina.
As he sat and watched the Bruins grab a 2-1 lead, Paille was confident he wouldn’t be on his backside for the final 40 minutes.
“Yeah I figured out what happened. It was the first period and I was definitely hoping that I wasn’t going to sit after that for the rest of the game. Claude’s usually really good with that,” Paille said. “He gives me that opportunity to bounce back. So I had to be patient and wait until after the first, but I’m glad that I had that opportunity to do better.”
Not since his days with the Buffalo Sabres and their long-time coach Lindy Ruff did Paille do so much watching from the bench. The rarity of the tactic might’ve been the best contributor to its effectiveness.
“He wants better play out of all of us, including myself. I know he expects better from me. So unfortunately I tried to do a soft dump and that got caught up, but I definitely should’ve seen that guy coming,” Paille said.
Paille only logged 9:08 of ice time total for the game. But he, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne were much better while the Bruins were protecting a one-goal lead. They even had a couple key shifts in the third period that helped whittle down the clock. And with 11:09 elapsed in the third, Paille seemingly extended the lead to 3-1. However, the goal was disallowed because of goaltender interference on Campbell. Replays showed Campbell never touched Carolina goaltender Cam Ward.
“I don’t agree with it. I’ll leave it at that,” Julien said of the call and the ensuing explanation from the referee.”
So Paille’s regular-season goal drought grew to 35 games dating back to March 8 against Tampa Bay. He’s 0-for-19 games this season and has just two assists for his efforts. The fourth line isn’t counted on for scoring, but points typically rack up when a line is doing its best job of keeping the opponent hemmed in and generating scoring chances on the cycle. There’s been little of that this season from Paille or his linemates (who had been changing regularly the first couple weeks of the season).
Despite the official’s ruling against his goal, Paille’s roller coaster evening ended on a climb. Now it’s up to him to keep it moving in an upward trajectory.