Bruins’ shootout victory set up by Lucic’s late goal
Tim Thomas was on the bench. The Bruins were down by one goal. They were facing a zero-point day when they deserved 2.
Milan Lucic wasn’t going to let that happen.
With 67 seconds remaining in regulation, Lucic scored a six-on-four goal, rapping in the rebound of a Rich Peverley shot, to tie the game at 3.
In the shootout, Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron slipped pucks behind Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne. And Thomas bolted the door shut on Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat to give the Bruins a 4-3 win yesterday before 17,565 at TD Garden.
“We needed that break,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “It probably would have been a real tough loss had we not been able to come up with a win with the way we played this afternoon.
“He found a way to get us back into it. He did it the hard way. At the end of the night, we got ourselves a win.’’
After a 6-0 dud Wednesday in Buffalo, the Bruins went through the paces in practices. They are facing their most wicked grind of 2011-12 - a home match Tuesday against the Rangers, then a six-game road swing that kicks off the following night in Montreal.
But rather than resting the players’ legs, the coaching staff was determined to jack up the competitive heat in practice. In yesterday’s game, which followed two high-level practices, the Bruins won puck races, battled with fire in the corners, and applied themselves in the most crucial situations.
“The last two practices were the way we need to compete and battle and play,’’ said Bergeron. “I think we brought that this afternoon.
“It was frustrating. It was not even close to the effort we were supposed to be giving. We turned it around, I think. We know we still have more of a job to do. But it’s one step forward.’’
The Bruins’ regulation goals captured the spirit of what they had been trying to do. In the first period, after the Bruins were nabbed with too many men on the ice, the Predators went on their first power play.
Brad Marchand made Nashville pay.
On the penalty kill, Marchand carried the puck from deep in the Boston zone. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, Nashville’s twin towers, converged on him. Instead of acceding and dumping the puck deep, Marchand went on the attack. He flipped the puck to himself and split the defenders.
Rinne cleared the puck, but Marchand tracked it down and waited for Bergeron, who had just rolled over the boards. When Bergeron cut into scoring position, Marchand laid a drop pass for his center. Bergeron immediately snapped a shot high blocker on Rinne at 16:00 to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
“I know how strong on the puck he is, but also how nifty he is at making those moves,’’ Bergeron said. “On the play, he knew he had a step on those two defensemen. He tried to put it into an area where he could skate into it.
“He used his speed. When he plays like that, he’s really hard to defend. I just tried to read what he was going to do and read that drop pass.’’
Weber tied the game with a power-play hammer at 7:32 of the second, but the Bruins’ fourth line punched back early in the third.
Shawn Thornton triggered the sequence with a cross-corner dump. Daniel Paille raced past Kevin Klein to settle the puck. At the same time, Thornton got a step on Roman Josi to support his linemate.
Paille and Thornton executed some hard-hat wall work. Paille protected the puck from Klein, sent a pass down the boards to Thornton, and cut for the net. Thornton flipped a backhand pass to Paille, who beat Rinne at 2:55.
“Did a good job of beating his guy off the wall,’’ Thornton said of Paille. “I just threw it to where he was going. It was pretty much all him. He got in on the forecheck. He outmuscled the guy to get open. He did a great job burying it.’’
Nashville kept coming. The Predators flipped the 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Kostitsyn blew past Andrew Ference, then saw Patric Hornqvist driving hard to the net. After charging past Paille, Hornqvist was in the right position to jam Kostitsyn’s feed past Thomas at 9:33.
Nashville pulled ahead at 16:28 of the third. Mike Fisher beat Adam McQuaid wide and threw a backhand pass into the slot. Nobody got a stick on the puck. But Fisher peeled around the net, found his own pass, and tapped a backhander past Thomas (19 saves) for the go-ahead goal.
“I took my eye off the puck to look and see where the Nashville guys were,’’ Thomas said. “By the time I looked back, I saw Fisher winding up to whack at the puck. I never got my eye back on the puck before he shot it and scored.’’
The Bruins made sure Thomas’s mistake didn’t bury them. Thanks to Lucic, and then Seguin and Bergeron, who did their stuff in the shootout.
“We had to work for 59 minutes to tie it up there and send it into overtime,’’ Lucic said. “But we played well. It’s great we were able to get that win, and hopefully we can play the same way here come Tuesday.’’