CHICAGO — They were thrown together at the end of a lackluster first period, partly out of desperation, partly out of a coach’s hunch in an attempt to tilt the ice in the Bruins’ favor after they started Game 2 skating uphill.
In what turned out to be one of his shrewdest moves of the night, Bruins coach Claude Julien, constantly mixing and matching his bottom six forwards after Gregory Campbellwent down with a broken right leg in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, paired speedy forwards Daniel Pailleand Tyler Seguinon a line centered by gritty veteran Chris Kelly.
It paid huge dividends when the revamped line produced a pair of goals Saturday night in the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime victory over the Blackhawks before a stunned United Center crowd of 22,154 that enabled the Bruins to head home with the best-of-seven series knotted up at one.
“We didn’t have much going,’’ Julien said. “At one point, I thought that line would give us something. They responded well. Got both goals tonight. It’s a hunch from a coach.’’
It proved a winning hunch when Paille carried the puck into the zone for a wraparound bid Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawfordturned away. Kelly, who had gone scoreless in his previous 21 playoff games, came swooping in to shovel home the juicy rebound to tie the game, 1-1, at 14:58 of the second period.
In overtime, the combination of Seguin and Paille maintained pressure on Crawford and produced the winner at 13:48. Seguin sent the puck to Paille at the left point and he let rip a slap shot that cleanly beat Crawford gloveside for the first overtime goal of his playoff career.
When he teed it up, Paille knew it was good.
“As soon as I got it off I knew I had a good shot and I’m just glad that it went in,’’ he said.
It was Paille’s third goal in 18 games this postseason and second winner after he tallied one in a 2-1 victory in Game 3 vs. New York in the conference semifinals.
“I know that Dan is a great skater, can make a lot of things happen,’’ Julien said. “Seguin, after the first period, was one of the guys that picked up his game. And Kelly was one of the guys that was good right from the start. I put those three guys together and they answered.’’
As good as he felt about scoring the winner, Paille said it made him feel even better to have been credited with the assist on Kelly’s game-tying goal.
“Kells works hard all year and he’s been kind of snakebitten so far and it hasn’t gone in for him, but he does the little things well for us,’’ Paille said. “It was good to see him get one tonight.’’
Said Kelly, “You know, I thought Paille played extremely well the whole night.
“His goal, great pass by Seguin. I thought both of them played extremely well. Their feet were moving the whole night.’’
It was the duo’s speed that helped make a genius of their coach.
“The bottom six have all played together at certain times,’’ Kelly said. “If it wasn’t this year, last year, even the year before. We’re all familiar with one another. I think Claude is just trying to find different chemistry with different guys, who’s going on any given night.
“Claude has a pretty good feel for his players. I think our line got thrown together, I don’t know, end of the first, beginning of the second. I thought we went out there and played well.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.