Claude Julien found a bit of magic on Saturday night, courtesy a new-look line.
The Bruins head coach put struggling winger Tyler Seguin on a line with Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille, and the trio combined for four points and both goals in a 2-1 OT victory over Chicago at the United Center.
“I put those three guys together, and they answered,” Julien said. “That line came up huge for us tonight.”
The unit was something of a reclamation project.
Kelly came into the night pointless through 17 games this postseason with an ugly minus-9 rating, but scored Boston’s first goal and was on the ice for Paille’s game-winner.
“I think he’s been snakebit for quite a while,” Julien said of Kelly. “When you don’t score, eventually you get scored on and the minuses keep creeping up. That was certainly something that bothered him.”
“Tonight’s a good night for him.”
Paille was something of a turnaround story as well. The 29-year-old winger hadn’t scored in seven straight games heading into Saturday’s affair, but came up huge in overtime.
“Dan skated well tonight,” said Julien. “His forecheck created turnovers, and he was also a lot stronger on the puck. That was a great shot by him [in OT].”
Paille set the tone in the second period with an outstanding move to elude Nick Leddy and set up Kelly for the equalizer.
Seguin, the Bruins’ leading scorer from a year ago, has struggled to find his groove this postseason (just one goal, five points) and has moved all over the lineup.
He replaced Nathan Horton on the “HuLK” line in overtime of Game 1 after Horton was hurt, and started Game 2 with Rich Peverley and Kaspars Daugavins.
Nothing worked — until he was put with Kelly and Paille.
It’s a big development for Boston and one that could be a momentum-changer in this series. If the Bruins are able to roll three lines confidently as this series goes on, it’ll compensate for the loss of the “Merlot Line” that was so effective in the Eastern Conference semis against the Rangers.