BOSTON — For the past few years, Milan Lucic’s game has been compared to Bruins’ great Cam Neely.
And Bruins fans might finally be drawing similar comparisons now (as if they weren’t when he entered the league in 2007-08).
On Tuesday, Lucic went from a bruising forward, to a talented power forward and scored his 30th goal of the season — at 16:13 of the third period — in the Bruins’ 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
“It feels great that I was able to get the 30th,” said Lucic, who became the team’s first 30-goal scorer since Phil Kessel (36) two seasons ago.
Even though Lucic appreciates the milestone, he was more impressed with how the team responded after being outshot 14-1 and trailing 1-0 during the first 11:05 of the contest.
After Ilya Kovalchuk’s power play goal with 8:55 left in the opening stanza, the Bruins outworked and outshot the Devils 29-17 through the remaining 48-plus minutes. During that span, the Black and Gold received goals from Lucic, Shawn Thornton (at 15:39 of the first), Zdeno Chara (a power play tally at 8:17) and Mark Recchi (an empty net goal at 19:20).
“Obviously I think the biggest thing here tonight is that we were playing Bruins hockey again,” Lucic said about the win. “It obviously wasn’t the best start for ourselves. We had only one shot in the first 10 minutes and after they got their first power play goal I think we started to get into gear and started getting pucks in behind them and started winning battles like we used to. And that was the big reason why we were able to get four goals today.”
Lucic’s presence has been pretty vital to the team’s success this season. During Nathan Horton’s slump back in January, the likes of Lucic and Patrice Bergeron helped carry the load and helped keep the Bruins atop the Northeast division standings.
With Horton’s recent hot streak, Lucic has continued to stay consistent and came through in the clutch with game-winners against Vancouver and Tampa Bay and has helped make that top line — alongside David Krejci — lethal.
“He’s having a pretty good year,” said head coach Claude Julien. “Anybody who scores 30 in this league is a pretty good player. And he’s playing his type of game as well because he’s physically involved. He’s winning a lot of battles and I think he’s going to the front of the net and taking the space that needs to be taken. When a player plays like that, you can’t complain.”