For the last 10-15 games or so, Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton were the faces of many Bruins’ fans milk cartons.
Now, at least for the time being, the trio can take themselves off the “missing” list.
In one of their better performances of the season, Lucic (three assists), Krejci and Horton (a goal and two assists each) each tallied three points and sparked the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in front of another sellout crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden Saturday afternoon.
More importantly, the line went back to doing the little things: being physical, creating chances and capitalizing on opportunities. And that certainly caught the eye of head coach Claude Julien.
“They showed what we need to see from them on a more consistent basis,” Julien said. “They were skating the north-south type game, they were forechecking, [and] being physical. Because of that they were turning pucks over, and not only that, they were strong on the puck and they made their chances count. A great chance from Horty, I thought, another great play by Looch on both of those goals, Krejci going to the pocket on his goal.
“Nonetheless, I liked their game and we needed that from them.”
With Lucic, Krejci and Horton struggles, the Bruins’ “second line” picked up the slack during that span. The only noteworthy thing that happened from that line Saturday was Brad Marchand dropping the gloves with Mike Ribeiro late in the second period.
Shortly after the Marchand-Ribeiro, bout – if you want to call it that – Horton dropped the gloves with Caps pest Matt Hendricks completing the Gordie Howe hat trick (for presumably the first time in his career).
Not bad for a guy who netted his first goal in nine games.
“It just feels good to contribute after not scoring for a while,” said Horton. “I think our line played a lot better tonight. When your thinking too much and your making plays, then you can make more mistakes and keep the puck deep. And as you saw on the goal I chipped the puck in Looch’s corner; we have to a little more of that. It gets us in the game and gets us playing in their zone and not in our zone. So it’s a lot more fun.”
The contributions from the top line did not just show up on the scoresheet. Just ask Andrew Ference, who scored his first goal of the season at 8:02 of the second – assisted by Horton and Krejci.
“They’re guys who can just take over the momentum of the game and can keep it going,” said Ference, who logged over 20 minutes of ice time for the sixth time this season. “Obviously you get into that mode that if you keep your feet moving and keeping that constant pressure going.”
It’s no secret that the Black and Gold pride themselves on having depth on all four lines. But its a little more beneficial when Krejci, Lucic and Horton perform up to their standards.
All three certainly did that on Saturday.
“They were unbelievable tonight,” said Shawn Thornton, who led all skaters with seven hits. “I think everybody on that line was going, you could see it right from the drop of the puck so well deserved…”