WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Early Saturday afternoon, Milan Lucic touched down in Winnipeg with the rest of his Bruins teammates. His stay, however, didn’t last very long.
Lucic returned to Boston because of a personal reason and will not play against the Jets Sunday.
The Bruins traveled from Buffalo to Winnipeg Saturday morning. Lucic spent several minutes at MTS Iceplex, the Jets’ practice facility, but didn’t practice.
He left the rink for nearby Winnipeg International Airport for his trip to Boston.
Lucic must have received word of his personal matter en route to Winnipeg or upon arrival, otherwise he would have returned to Boston directly.
In Saturday’s practice, Rich Peverley replaced Lucic on the first line alongside David Krejci and Nathan Horton. Peverley will most likely remain in that spot against the Jets. Daniel Paille practiced on the third line with Chris Kelly and Chris Bourque.
Jay Pandolfo skated on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Pandolfo will make his Bruins debut against the Jets; he was a healthy scratch against Buffalo. The left wing signed a one-year, $600,000 contract Tuesday.
The Bruins could have assigned Pandolfo to Providence on a conditioning stint, but coach Claude Julien, Pandolfo’s boss in New Jersey, was confident that the left wing’s experience and conditioning would allow him to play an NHL game without a warm-up.
If Horton weren’t getting scoring chances, he would be concerned. The right wing has gone without a point in four of the last five games.
But Horton’s offensive sniffs have been there. He landed three shots on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller in the Bruins’ 4-2 loss on Friday. Horton has 33 shots, third-most on the team behind Patrice Bergeron (44) and Tyler Seguin (37).
“The last couple games, I’ve had chances, I just haven’t scored,” Horton said. “I’ve had good chances, a couple open nets. It’s just not going in.
“But I’m not getting down. When I get the chance the next time, I’ll try to score. If you get down, you’re going to miss the next one.”
Horton brought the offensive hammer down early. During a five-game scoring streak from Jan. 23-31, he recorded three goals and three assists.
Lately, Horton’s fading finishing touch has been in lockstep with the teamwide scoring slump.
Horton is one of three Bruins who will reach unrestricted free agency at season’s end. Some players might feel pressure; Horton, however, said he’s not concerned about an extension or an open-market deal.
“I’m just concentrating on being back and having fun again,” he said.
Penalty killing has not been Kelly’s problem. The No. 3 center, who kills penalties alongside Peverley, is one of the reasons the Bruins have the league’s best PK (93.9 percent). But Kelly and his linemates have not been as thorough in even-strength situations. Kelly, Peverley, and Bourque were on the ice for two of Buffalo’s three third-period goals. “They’ve got a new winger,” said Julien, referring to Bourque. “Certainly not going to point the finger at him. Kells is one of those guys that’s still trying to find his game. He’s pretty hard on himself. Sometimes being so hard on yourself, it can take a little longer.” Kelly is the only regular forward without a goal. He scored a career-high 20 last season.