|Bruins winger Dan Paille leaps in the air to avoid an incoming shot from the point. (Getty)|
BOSTON-- While there were changes to both the cast and the conclusion, the storyline worth highlighting in the Bruins 3-2 win over the Islanders -- just as it was in their 5-3 loss to the Rangers -- was the strong play of the fourth line.
With Michael Ryder moving up in the lineup, Dan Paille and Greg Campbell welcomed Shawn Thornton back from a three-game absence and the results were immediate.
Thornton, much to the delight of the faithful fans at TD Garden, tallied with just one-tenth of a second left in the first period to put Boston ahead 1-0.
"Well I knew when we got out there, there was about 30 seconds left and we didn't have much time," Paille said when recalling the shift. "I looked at the clock and couldn't believe it didn't go off. It was great to get that right before the end of the first period."
It was the start of a stellar evening for the trio -- especially given that Boston's other three forward combos could hardly muster any consistent presence in the Islanders zone -- as Campbell also tallied, helping his line account for two-thirds of Boston's goals on the night.
"We just saw that we were kind of playing a bit of pond hockey, so it just seemed like -- especially with Thorty coming back in here -- we wanted to create something and we just kept the puck all night," said Paille. "It was something that we wanted to do and it was great to see us score two goals tonight."
After playing in spurts, spending an abundance of time in the press box as the Black and Gold's healthy scratch, Paille has seemingly cemented his spot in the lineup. The 26-year-old winger finished the night with a team-high rating of plus-2 and his assist on Thornton's tally gives him four points in the last five games, including a three-game point streak.
"I knew when I got back in, I didn't need much," Paille said when asked how long it would take to find his game. "I just needed a little bit to get out there. Claude (Julien) put me out and, since I've been back, I've tried to make the best of my time. So far, it's been going pretty well."
The defensive-minded winger also came up big down the other end of the ice, blocking a shot from Kyle Okposo with just seconds remaining as the Isles pushed to knot things up.
"It got me right in the pants there, so I'm fine," the humble forward said of the play. "There's enough padding there."
With a renewed sense of confidence, Paille has become increasingly more comfortable with the puck on his stick, a feeling that he lacked in the early stages of the season when receiving sporadic ice time.
"Well it feels great," he said. "I've been feeling really good out there when I'm playing. Just to find those opportunities to get those shots, I've got to be there and find them with my speed. I've just got to bury those great feeds."
Both he and Campbell have shown an abundance of chemistry of late, something Paille believes stems from the fact that their styles closely resemble one another.
"I feel like we play very similar, that's why I think it's really easy to read him," he said of his pivot. "I know where he's going to be. He's been amazing defensively and obviously offensively he's been producing, including that huge goal for us tonight."
With the fourth line clicking at just the right time, Paille hopes that trend can continue next week when the postseason commences and that he and his linemates can be -- as Campbell noted the day prior at practice -- the unsung heroes in crunch time.
"I think we all want to be that guy," said Paille. "Every game things change, so whoever it is, it's going to be huge for us."
While he would have much rather been in the lineup for each and every tilt, the Welland, Ontario, native knows that extra energy he has left in the tank should come in handy, especially if the Black and Gold are about to embark on a lengthy playoff run.
"I'm definitely more rested, so I feel great," Paille said. "Obviously I wanted to play every game if I could, but it happened this way. I look at it now where I've got an opportunity, so I just go out there and give it everything I've got."