Lucic hopes to bring it home
Series win would mean return trip
TAMPA — Nobody wants to advance to the Stanley Cup Final more than Milan Lucic. The series will start next week in Vancouver, Lucic’s hometown. So he wants the opportunity to play in front of his family and friends.
“You’ve got to be confident. You’ve got to believe,’’ Lucic said of his approach for tomorrow’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning. “You can’t have any regrets. Everything’s on the line. It’s the chance to move on and play for something that you’ve been dreaming about as a kid your whole life. We’re in a situation here that’s an exciting situation. We’ve got to have fun with it. Go out there and make the most of it.’’
It has been an up-and-down series for Lucic. He has been slowed by an injured right foot, courtesy of an errant Tyler Seguin shot last week in practice. Of late, however, Lucic’s game has been trending upward.
Last night, he had one goal and one assist in 19:08 of ice time, and landed four shots on goal, tying him with David Krejci (hat trick) for most by a Bruin. Lucic was credited with one hit, although he might have racked up several more than were counted.
In the first, Lucic erased a 1-0 deficit. He went one-on-one with Victor Hedman, used him as a screen, and snapped a shot between the defenseman’s legs that went high glove on Dwayne Roloson. In the third, Lucic assisted on Krejci’s third goal, which trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 5-4. Linemate Nathan Horton recorded two assists.
“He was skating tonight,’’ coach Claude Julien said of Lucic. “It’s as simple as that. When he skates and comes at you hard, he certainly puts everybody on their heels. I thought he was skating well tonight, created some space for himself, and also created some turnovers. That was a big difference-maker as far as that line was concerned. It made a whole lot of difference.’’
Lucic, Krejci, and Horton played their best game of the series. They were heavy on the puck. They created space with big hits and strong skating. They used their size and skill to wear out the Tampa defensemen deep in the offensive zone. They connected for all four of the team’s goals.
“We need to build off it,’’ said Lucic. “We need to play the same way. It wasn’t enough tonight, so hopefully we can bring even more. That’s a positive we can take. You’re never happy no matter what you did out there with the loss. But there’s some things we can build off of.’’
Lucic always has been a big-game player. The spotlight doesn’t get any brighter than it will tomorrow.
“For almost all of us, it’s the biggest game of our careers,’’ Lucic said. “We’ve got to go out there, have fun, and have no regrets.’’
Pushed to the limit Tomorrow will mark the Bruins’ second Game 7 of the playoffs. In the first round, the Bruins failed to close out the Canadiens in six games, Montreal scoring a 2-1 win in Game 6 at the Bell Centre.
In Game 7, the Bruins claimed a 4-3 overtime win, taking advantage of home ice. Tomorrow, they hope to do the same.
“That was my comment after the game to our guys,’’ Julien said. “You play 82 games. A lot of times, people say, ‘What do you play those 82 games for?’ I think that’s one of the key things, that if you can get home-ice advantage at this time of year, you need to take advantage of it. We did against Montreal. Now we need to do the same thing against Tampa.’’
The Bruins are 10-10 in Game 7s, 10-6 at home. This is the first time in team history they will play two Game 7s in one postseason.
Time is limited Johnny Boychuk looked like a player suffering the effects of a head injury. Boychuk, who said he was foggy after a third-period Steve Downie hit in Game 5, played only 12:27 last night, his lightest workload of the playoffs. Boychuk was on the ice for seven of the nine goals. He had one assist and zero shots . . . Tomas Kaberle logged 19:46 of ice time, his most of the series. Kaberle assisted on Krejci’s second and third goals, but took a momentum-sapping interference penalty at 6:58 of the third . . . Horton was tagged with an end-of-game roughing minor . . . Patrice Bergeron had a rare losing night in the faceoff circle, going 9 for 19. He was only 1 for 6 through the first period.