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Fourth line has been stepping up for Bruins

Charlie McAvoy chased Edmonton’s Connor McDavid during the second period of Tuesday night’s game.Jason Franson/AP

EDMONTON, Alberta — A few thoughts ’n’ shots following the Bruins’ 3-2 comeback win Tuesday night in Edmonton, the Black and Gold bouncing back from a 2-0 deficit with third-period strikes by Noel Acciari, Matt Grzelcyk, and finally David Krejci with only 64 seconds remaining in regulation.

■  Acciari, now with seven goals this season, cut the Oilers lead to 2-1 when his wraparound attempt from behind the right post banged in off the right leg of Edmonton forward Ryan Strome at the top of the crease.

“I’m just expecting to put the puck on net; you don’t know what’s going to happen,” explained Acciari. “I had a little puck luck there, and I am grateful for that.”


Acciari is the right winger on the club’s Trench Connection line with Tim Schaller and Sean Kuraly. Schaller had the lone Boston goal last Saturday night in Vancouver, where the Bruins opened their five-game road trip with a 6-1 shellacking at the hands of the Canucks.

Schaller (10), Kuraly (5), and Acciari (7) now have 22 goals, very impressive for a so-called fourth line that doesn’t get power-play duty and often gets deployed by coach Bruce Cassidy for lead protection.

“We enjoy just having the coach’s confidence,’ said Acciari. “We’ve got to be smart with the puck, make sure we know who we are out against, get pucks deep — just keep it down low. No turnovers. Make sure we have a guy high.”

“They are very responsible, they’re big,” said Cassidy. “And Sean is a really good skater, so we thought he could keep up with the chase, angle off and close off plays in our end.

“Offensively, they’ve done a really good job chipping in. I think they are over 20 goals even strength for a line. That’s pretty good for a fourth line that doesn’t see any power-play time.”


Riley Nash made the key assist on Grzelcyk’s goal that tied it, 2-2, with 8:18 to go. After a Charlie McAvoy shot ricocheted off him around the right circle, Nash dished it over to the oncoming Grzelcyk, who was left unprotected in the left circle for a shot ostensibly into an open net on goalie Cam Talbot.

“I didn’t think I’d get a good shot off because the D-man was right on my back,” noted Nash. “I saw Grizz coming in back door, so I just tried to lay it out there and luckily the goalie was down and out.”

Nash had another huge helper Monday afternoon in Calgary, where, during three-on-three overtime, he sprang Brad Marchand for a breakaway that finished off the 2-1 victory.

“It’s been a fun run, a fun year,” said Nash, now with a line of 10-18—28 in his second year with the Bruins. “I’m just trying to pull my weight wherever possible. We had a lot of lines chipping in tonight.”

Nash was a first-round pick, No. 21 overall, by the Oilers in 2007. After three years at Cornell, he informed the Oilers he had little interest in signing here, in part because they were so loaded at center. They moved him to Carolina, where he played 3½ seasons before signing with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent prior to last season.

■   The Bruins became only the third team this season to win after entering the third period with a two-goal deficit.


According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the other two were the Rangers, who defeated the Golden Knights, 6-4, on Oct. 31, and the Maple Leafs, who defeated the Senators, 4-3, on Jan. 20.

Clubs entering the third period ahead by two goals now have a 194-3-13 record in 210 games. So, in NHL-speak, that’s a 95.5 “point” percentage. Anyone for pulling the goalie when entering the third period in a two-goal deficit?

■   Cassidy shuffled his lines in the third period, and it provided the spark that led to Krejci’s winner.

Krejci, without a goal in six games, picked up David Backes and Danton Heinen as his wingers. Nash inherited Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Spooner. Ultimately, Krejci cashed in the winner on a play that had Backes feeding Heinen behind the net and Heinen dishing to the slot.

“I thought Krech has had some jump lately,” explained Cassidy, “but hasn’t had much luck around the net. So I didn’t think [DeBrusk and Spooner] were as good as they have been the last few games, so we made the switch.

“It happened to work out and give us a little juice. We’ll see how it shakes out on Saturday.”

The Bruins take on the Leafs in Toronto Saturday, and it will be no surprise if Cassidy leaves the Heinen-Krejci-Backes line intact. Getting Krejci’s offensive engine running will be vital for the playoffs.

■   The Bruins now have nine defensemen after picking up Nick Holden Tuesday from the Rangers, so it was an especially good time for Grzelcyk to pick up his second goal this season.


Holden is a left-shot defenseman, same as Grzelcyk, and if he is going to make it into the lineup, now or later, it could come at the expense of the former Boston University standout.

“It’s not a bad thing, kind of keeps you on your toes,” said Grzelcyk. “I don’t think it really changes anything for me.

“It has been nice to play 40 games or so so far, but I feel each and every day I have to earn my spot. Nothing is given to me, and I have to go out there and work hard and earn the coach’s trust.”

■   The Bruins travel to Toronto Wednesday and won’t practice there until Friday, the day Holden is expected to join them for his first practice . . . The Bruins outshot the Oilers, 44-20, and now have a 121-72 advantage for three games on this trip. However, they’ve been outscored, 9-6 . . . Ex-Bruin Milan Lucic played a sleepy 13:22 Tuesday, his one shot attempt blocked. However, he did land six hits. To get to his A game, Looch needs to play with fury, and fighting helps get his emotion to that level. But with fighting all but eradicated in today’s NHL, there isn’t anything to light Looch’s lamp. And he has five more years on his deal at $6 million per annum . . . Kuraly and Schaller were the only two Bruins not to land a shot on net . . . Patrice Bergeron was his usually masterful self at the faceoff dot, winning 17 of 25 draws (68 percent), helping the Bruins win two of every three drops for the night (40 wins, 21 losses) . . . The Bruins are 0 for 10 on the man-advantage across the three games on this trip. Another reason it’s a good idea to look at Krejci with some different wingers . . . Thomas Vanek remains a viable option for general manager Don Sweeney to go after, with Monday’s trade deadline approaching. The Canucks say they will deal Vanek, and he could give Cassidy options at wing, including perhaps a look at right wing with Bergeron and Marchand. That would allow David Pastrnak to bump over to Krejci’s right wing, which the Bruins considered at the start of the season when they looked at promising rookie Anders Bjork on the first line . . . Anton Khudobin (18 saves) improved his record to 6-1-2 in his last nine starts. Look for Tuukka Rask to face the Leafs Saturday and Khudobin to get the trip closer in Buffalo Sunday.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.