The Bruins knew they were opening the second period on the power play. They also knew they were 0 for 10 with the man advantage in their second-round series against the Canadiens.
They had created chances, but no goals.
“I think our power play was due,” coach Claude Julien said after the 4-2 win. “After the first period, again, our power play was just average, so we had a little chat and talked about bringing the intensity up there on the power play and winning more battles and making stronger plays and it gave us obviously those two goals, which were huge for us.”
The Bruins scored those two goals in just 32 seconds, extending their lead to 3-0 and demonstrating they can solve the Canadiens penalty kill, as they did in the first round when they went 6 for 16 against the Red Wings.
“We got a little bit away from the things that brought success early in the year,” Reilly Smith said. “In the first series it seemed like everything was going in, so we maybe took it for granted maybe a little bit, but it was good to get back to it tonight.
“I think we stuck to it, we tried to slow things down, get our pace back. And their penalty kill was outworking us for the first period, so it was good to get back and take control.”
They used two penalties on Tomas Plekanec (goaltender interference, high-sticking) to jump start their attack, along with excellent passes from Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug that resulted in the goals. It was even more important because after getting just three power-play opportunities in two games in Montreal, the Bruins had four in Game 5.
“They were huge, especially because we had some opportunities on the power play in the first period and we weren’t really able to get anything out of it,” Milan Lucic said. “Our power play has kind of not been working for us in the first four games there and in the first period. So to get rewarded with some power-play goals right at the start of the second and extend that lead was huge for us, and we never looked back from that.”
As Zdeno Chara said, “We certainly tried to work really hard at it. You know, create something. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to score on every power-play opportunity. But you want to make sure that you create some kind of momentum or create some good chances. I think maybe the difference was we were able to score on those.”
Lucic flexes muscle
There was a notable difference in the play of Lucic in Game 5, with more physicality and a better forecheck. It could be seen in hits on Alexei Emelin and P.K. Subban that featured a bit of extra oomph and emotion.
As Johnny Boychuk said, “He has to [be physical] and he knows that.”
“It’s the playoffs, right?” Lucic said. “As it goes on and the series goes on you want to get better, you want to keep being physical and hopefully try to wear guys down. And that’s one of the things that’s huge in a playoff series.
“I think we need to remain physical. They’re not shying away from the physicality, they’re trying to play as physical as we are. So it’s been a fun battle so far in a physicality standpoint and we need to keep that part of our game up.”
Perhaps the most notable moment for Lucic — at least in terms of his emotional involvement — saw the left wing flexing his biceps at Subban, a moment that was caught on camera.
“I think it’s self-explanatory,” Lucic said. “So just one of those battles within the game. And just having some fun within the game. As serious as this game can be sometimes, it has to be fun as well. You know [Subban] likes to have fun, too.”
Julien has alternated between Matt Bartkowski and Andrej Meszaros on the second defensive pairing with Boychuk. Bartkowski was back in the lineup for Game 4 after sitting the two previous games. “Not much I can say here,” Julien said about what factored into the decision. “It’s just coaching decisions, you’ve heard me say that before. There’s not always a rhyme or reason.” The way Julien has alternated the two, neither has seemed to find a rhythm. Asked if that might help, Julien said, “So far, it hasn’t made a difference. You want your players to be ready to play any time they are called upon. That’s what playoff hockey is all about.” Bartkowski was a plus-2, recording an assist and six hits . . . Lucic was the only Bruin not on the ice for morning skate Saturday. He briefly poked his head into the dressing room during media availability. It appeared that, like Carl Soderberg on Thursday, Lucic was merely taking the option not to participate . . . Matt Fraser said he got back to his hotel room and watched the replay of his winner “three or four times,” then had trouble falling asleep after Game 4. “It’s more or less just to see the celebration after, just to remember that feeling,” he said.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.