April 15, 2011

First line fires blanks in Game 1 loss to Habs

by Jesse Connolly

Canadiens captain Brian Gionta tries to knock the puck off of Bruins winger Milan Lucic's stick. (Getty)

BOSTON -- Through forty minutes of play on Thursday night at TD Garden, the Boston Bruins held a decisive 26-14 edge in shots over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1. Everyone up and down the lineup was firing away at goaltender Carey Price.

Well, except for the Bruins top line, that is.

The trio of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic had just one shot to their credit in the first two periods, as the forward combo the Black and Gold will need to produce in order to succeed did little to erase the goose-egg on the scoreboard.

"Well, I think when you look at the score sheet tonight, it’s pretty obvious that we need those guys to produce for us and they’re amongst the rest of the team that has to do a better job of that," coach Claude Julien said after his team's 2-0 loss.

"We'll deal with those kind of things internally, but no doubt we have some players that we’d like to see be a little better offensively and give us a little bit more of an offensive punch to their game."

In the final frame, Horton chipped in his second and third shots of the game while Lucic finally managed to put a puck on net, but Krejci remained the only forward without a shot on goal in the entirety of the tilt.

"Well I think it got better as the game got along," Lucic said when asked to assess the play of his line. "I think we probably could have done better like I talked about with getting in, fighting for a position in front of the net, creating screens and getting those rebounds where they did a pretty good job battling with us and trying to box us out.

"But for ourselves we felt like we had a pretty good game obviously. But like I said we have to raise it another level."

As if their offensive shortcomings weren't enough, the three forwards found themselves on the ice for Montreal's insurance marker in the closing minutes of the third period.

Lucic looked to storm out of his own end, but a collision with Canadiens forward Scott Gomez led to him coughing up the puck before Brian Gionta buried his second goal of the night to make it 2-0.

"For myself, mistakes are going to happen," said Lucic. "I made a mistake there, and cost a goal for myself and for them to take the two nothing lead. But mistakes are going to happen. It just goes to show that every little mistake can turn around and be a big goal. For myself and the team, we've got to learn from stuff like that and we can’t get frustrated."

While standout performances were tough to point among the rest of their teammates, Lucic and his linemates know just how important it is to bounce back and have a considerably better performance on Saturday night.

Otherwise, the Bruins face the prospect of heading to Montreal for Games 3 and 4 with an 0-2 series deficit staring them in the face.

"It’s not a secret that the Bell Centre is not an easy building for us to win in, especially this year," Lucic said. "It’s definitely a must-win to try to get the split."